Philanthropists See Coordination as Key to Fighting Global Poverty, Report Finds

Although many philanthropists harbor large ambitions when it comes to fighting global poverty, the most effective approach to addressing the issue may be no more complicated than coordinating existing efforts, a report from Forbes Insights and Credit Suisse finds.

Based on a global survey of more than three hundred millionaires and interviews with prominent philanthropists, the report, Alleviating Global Poverty: Catalysts of Change (36 pages, PDF), found that 73 percent of respondents believe that fighting global poverty requires systemic change at the highest levels; that the largest share of respondents, 42 percent, are focused on local and targeted giving, while only 29 percent are focused on giving for global causes; and that 23 percent identify philanthropic "success" with the alleviation of physical suffering or meeting immediate needs.

The report also found that 48 percent of those surveyed said there are too many nonprofits with overlapping missions, while 27 percent cited the difficulty of forging alliances as a primary impediment to achieving their philanthropic goals — findings which suggest that the most effective strategy for individual philanthropists may be to join forces with other philanthropists or to act as a venture fund and seed others' initiatives.

"There are two crushing weaknesses with the philanthropic model today," Michael Porter, a professor at Harvard Business School and board chair of AllWorld Network, told Forbes Insight. "There is not enough money to give away. And there is too much fragmentation and not enough large-scale impact. That is why we haven't gotten a lot of great results yet."