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Rockefeller Foundation and Partners Launch Global Debate on the Role of Philanthropy in International Development

The initiative, jointly led by by the Institute of Development Studies, the Resource Alliance and the Rockefeller Foundation aims to find new forms of collaboration between philanthropists and development experts

Published 08-08-11

Submitted by Rockefeller Foundation

As millions of people, multilateral organisations, and philanthropic foundations around the world dedicate time and resources for short- and long-term solutions to the urgent food crisis in the Horn of Africa, a global dialogue is launched to foster innovative partnerships focused on the improvement of human well-being.

The Bellagio Initiative brings together the world’s most respected and innovative thinkers in the fields of philanthropy and international development. Over the coming months they will consider the key issues likely to shape the future wellbeing of humanity and identify new opportunities for joint action by philanthropic and development organisations.

The initiative comes as philanthropic giving becomes ever-more important in the fight to eradicate poverty. It has more than doubled in size over the past decade, according to OECD figures, standing at over US$22bn in 2009.

Throughout the second half of 2011, the Bellagio Initiative will engage a diverse group of practitioners, opinion leaders, beneficiaries, social entrepreneurs and donors to consider innovative solutions to some of the major challenges affecting poor people today. The Initiative will convene global consultations on topics such as climate change, emerging markets, sustainability, migration and rights which, together with specially commissioned papers and commentary, will feed into debate at a high-level summit being held at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Centre, Italy, in November. This summit will see some of the world’s best thinkers and practitioners in philanthropy and development circles sitting together – in some cases for the first time – to explore joint solutions to poverty. Others from around the globe will participate online.

In addition, the Bellagio Initiative will produce:

  • A Timeline of Philanthropy, providing insights into the phenomenal growth of private giving.
  • A Mapping of the Philanthropic Sector, revealing who the big private donors are today, what they spend their money on and which countries benefit most from their giving.
  • A Framework for Action, focusing on building partnerships, across regions and sectors, for the promotion of human wellbeing.

All those interested in the future of development and the role of philanthropy can contribute to the discussion at

Heather Grady, Vice President for Foundation Initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation said: “From the very beginning, the Rockefeller Foundation has placed human wellbeing at the core of our mission, and the Bellagio Initiative is a true reflection of that commitment. Our goals at the Foundation – building resilience and promoting equitable growth – will be greatly informed by this process.”

Professor Allister McGregor, a research fellow at IDS and Director of the Bellagio Initiative, said: “This Initiative will involve some of today’s best thinkers coming together to find ways to confront challenges to improving human wellbeing worldwide. This is, after all, both the aim of international development and the wellspring of much philanthropic effort. The process will involve creative thinking, and it will culminate in a concrete action plan that we hope will make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Neelam Makhijani, chief executive of the Resource Alliance (RA), said: "This represents a unique opportunity for those working at the grassroots level, improving wellbeing in their communities, to engage in cross-sector dialogue on today’s most pertinent issues. We anticipate that the innovative solutions to strengthening strategic and sustainable philanthropy discussed throughout the Bellagio Initiative will lead to constructive action in the years to come.”

Note to editors:

  1. The Bellagio Initiative: The Future of Philanthropy and Development in the Pursuit of Human Wellbeing high-level summit will be held at the Rockefeller Bellagio Centre, Italy, from 8-22 November 2011. 
  2. The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission to promote the wellbeing of people throughout the world has remained unchanged since its founding in 1913.
  3. The Institute of Development Studies is a leading global charity for research, teaching and information on international development. It is based at the University of Sussex, Brighton UK.
  4. The Resource Alliance is an international charity specialising in building the fundraising capacity of not-for-profit organisations.
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