Recently, Kofi Annan; former Secretary-General of the United Nations, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize and current Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, took to Linkedin to share his thoughts on modern philanthropists. In the beginning of the article, Annan confides that throughout his storied career he has witnessed numerous changes in how we collectively approach global issues. But he claims that the seeming resurgence of philanthropy in recent memory has truly been a change for the better.
Annan recounts that the intractable global challenges have been tremendously aided by the involvement and contributions of today’s major philanthropists. He recounts the integral role that the Gates Foundation played as an early contributor to the launch of the Global Fund as a means of fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
According to Annan, The Gates Foundation not only provided additional resources, but approached the task at hand with a mentality completely different that of the U.N..
Annan goes on to describe modern-day philanthropists as courageous innovators unafraid to implement creative solutions in the hopes of delivering the desired outcomes. He also describes the inherent understanding among these philanthropists of a need to cultivate partnerships across many sectors in order to successfully attack an issue or cause. While some NGOs may fear the power that these philanthropists yield, the philanthropists acknowledge the value of collaboration and rarely act solely on their own whims.
Modern day philanthropists are usually very well-considered and thoughtful when it comes to contributing to different causes. However, there is still room for their own convictions and beliefs to be expressed in the process. Many philanthropists choose a cause or causes that are dear to them or meaningful to them in some way. Although many still contribute anonymously, many members of the “new breed of philanthropy champions” have increased the visibility of certain causes and questioned traditional thinking about different issues through openly discussing their cause publicly.
Annan cites the growing number of successful companies that have thrived in Africa then gone on to set up charitably foundations there. These foundations bear a certain amount of credibility owing to the skill sets that these philanthropists bring from their professional lives to these more personal endeavors.
Annan ends his article expressing how delighted he is to see this “next generation of philanthropists leading the way [in doing more than funding, but coming up with great ideas and focusing on making these ideas work in practice]”
These sorts of observations from someone who has truly dedicated his career to fighting the challenging global issues of our time are encouraging and hopefully, we can take note of the iconic philanthropists of today and apply some of their lessons to our own engagement in charitable causes.