Despite their commitment to building resilient and stable societies, philanthropic organizations are often reluctant to fund peacebuilding efforts, a report from Candid finds.
Funded by PeaceNexus and based on a survey of more than eight hundred nongovernmental or civil society organizations, foundations, and other funders conducted by Candid and CENTRIS, the report, Philanthropy for a safe, healthy, and just world (48 pages, PDF), found that 30.8 percent of respondents said their organization worked in an area impacted by war or violent conflict, 18.2 percent cited peace as an issue area in which their organization worked, and 18.4 percent rated conflict resolution and peacebuilding as an element of social change that is "very important" to their work. When asked about the three major categories of peace and security-related grantmaking, more than half said supporting resilient and stable societies — through, for example, support for democratic institutions, rule of law, climate security, and gender equality — was central to (30.9 percent) or not central but important to (26 percent) their work. Much smaller shares said the same of preventing or mitigating conflict (11.4 percent and 18 percent) — including countering violent extremism, preventing atrocities, boosting cybersecurity, combating gender-based violence, and reducing militarism — and of resolving conflict or building peace through peace negotiations, transitional justice, support for victims, and demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration initiatives (9.4 percent and 12.6 percent).
Data previously compiled by the Peace and Security Funders Group and Candid have shown that less than 1 percent of philanthropic funding supports peace and security initiatives and less than that is specifically focused on peacebuilding. The survey found that endowed foundations were least likely to be actively involved in peacebuilding efforts, followed by government funders and corporate foundations. According to the study, the most significant predictors of an organization's engagement with peacebuilding — across all organization types — are experience working in a conflict zone and commitment to political change. Of the respondents whose organizations are involved in peacebuilding, 93.7 percent said a commitment to addressing the root causes of and taking preventive actions in a conflict led to their involvement, followed by alignment with the core values of a foundation and/or its trustees (88.9 percent), commitment to a country or geographical area that has experienced violent conflict (79.6 percent), and experience of the founder and/or trustees in working on conflict (70.1 percent).
The survey also found that reasons for not engaging in peacebuilding included perceptions that it's too political (43.2 percent), there's not enough evidence for what works (24.3 percent), it's too difficult to measure (24.3 percent), and it's for government and official donors, not for private foundations or civil society (18.3 percent). Given that 56.9 percent of respondents said supporting resilient and stable societies was central or important to their work, the report's authors note that there is a need for a broader understanding of peacebuilding that makes explicit the importance of supporting resilient and stable societies as a major category of peacebuilding work.
"This study starts to answer foundational questions for the sector," said Lauren Bradford, senior director of global partnerships at Candid. "What we've learned from those doing peacebuilding work is that effective approaches are grounded in the intersection of social justice, human rights, and peace, and carefully considers dynamics that stand in the way of achieving a more peaceful society."
"The study shows what practitioners have been saying for years, namely that peacebuilding at community level is invisible to grantmaking foundations," said CENTRIS executive director Barry Knight. "At a time when the world needs so much healing, we hope that the study will show why a new approach is needed."