A Guide to the Contemporary Commonwealth

By W. David McIntyre | Go to book overview

20
Philanthropic Organisations

After concentrating for over a decade on fostering professional interchanges, the Foundation was given a vastly enlarged mandate in 1980. From being a charity in law, it became an international organisation with eight areas of interest. The list – food production, health, education, social welfare, science and technology, culture, the media, and public administration – was a dauntingly comprehensive one. After nearly two decades of fulfilling this role, the Foundation, in its report for 1996–9, had refined its mission down to support for three general areas: 1) NGOs, 2) professional associations, and 3) cultural activities. Priority for its grants was given to South/South cooperation, poverty eradication and sustainable development.

Central to this refinement of role in relation to the voluntary sector stands the 1995 study by Ball and Dunn, Non-Governmental Organisations: Guidelines for Good Policy and Practice. Written in the context of the explosion of voluntary organisations during the previous 20 years and the ease of air travel, which made pan-Commonwealth organisations possible, the Guidelines brought, for the first time, some clarity to this burgeoning area. It was estimated that in Britain there were 500,000 organisations with a combined turnover of some £17 billion. Canada had 2,000 environmental organisations alone. In India there were 100,000 organisations. The Guidelines placed this movement, first of all, in an historical context that revealed a circular evolutionary cycle. From the charitable and philanthropic organisations in the first industrialised economies that pioneered welfare provision (and which, in colonies, were for many years the sole providers of health and education), there had grown organisations to advocate public action and reform. Gradually, governments were alerted to needs, built welfare bureaucracies and created expectations

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