NYUAD initiative to boost 'impactful philanthropy' across Middle East

Partnership with Emirati entrepreneur Badr Jafar could create “golden age” of giving

Badr Jafar
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A programme to study and promote philanthropy in the UAE and the region has been started in Abu Dhabi.

The Strategic Philanthropy Initiative is being run by New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) in partnership with Emirati businessman and social entrepreneur Badr Jafar.

Mr Jafar said the initiative had the potential to create a “golden age of philanthropy” in the region.

In strategic philanthropy, instead of seeing the outcome as quantum of money, you see the outcome as impact generated
Badr Jafar, an Emirati businessman and social entrepreneur

“This is particularly true in the Mena region, where 60 per cent of the population is under the age of 25,” he said.

“Equipping our youth with the tools, resources, and infrastructure needed to boost impact using their time, talent and treasure is a massive and timely opportunity, and this collaboration with NYUAD is well-positioned to champion this cause and make a real difference.”

A 2016 Wealth-X and Arton Capital report gives insights on the philanthropic trends of ultra high-net-worth people and it shows that they will pass on $3.9 trillion to the next generation over the next decade.

Mr Jafar said strategic philanthropy describes any form of “impact-driven giving” that is evidence based, planned and followed through to achieve the intended result.

“Rather than seeing the outcome as quantum of money, you see the outcome as impact generated. That’s a fundamental shift in thinking,” Mr Jafar said.

The initiative will focus on three areas: research to understand the past, present and possible future of philanthropy in the UAE and region; education for existing and aspiring philanthropists; and bringing people together to share ideas about the practice.

It will also run a student competition, as well as a prize in philanthropy to reward and inspire others to make donations that have an impact.

Somewhere between $400bn to $1tn is distributed throughout the Muslim world each year as a result of zakat and sadaqah donations, Mr Jafar said.

“That’s one figure, but another more depressing figure, on the other hand, is the fact that one in four Muslims lives below the poverty line,” he said.

“So one can’t help feel there is perhaps a better way to ensure this huge amount of philanthropic capital really meets the objectives that it is intended for, and maximise its impact.”

NYUAD Vice Chancellor Mariet Westermann said it was exciting to see economists and political scientists, social thinkers, next generational philanthropists, policymakers and NYUAD students join forces to make their communities better through strategic philanthropy.

“This partnership will advance the study, reach, and effectiveness of strategic philanthropy in the UAE, the wider region and the world, and drive collective action for change on the most pressing social and environmental issues,” she said.

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Updated: September 28, 2021, 4:15 AM