New data on next-gen giving in MENA

First-of-its kind report highlights emerging trends in next-gen philanthropy

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Circle members and next-gen donors joined regional philanthropy and CSR practitioners for the launch of “Grounded in tradition, looking to the future”, a first-of-its-kind data report produced by the Zovighian Partnership (ZP), a Lebanon-based research and social investment platform, in partnership with the UAE’s Pearl Initiative.

ZP’s co-founder Lynn Zovighian, herself a next-gen philanthropist, presented highlights from the report, which she said was “trying to address data gaps” around next-gen giving. “We wanted to understand the giving priorities, the challenges, and the obstacles getting in the way,” she told the packed launch event in Dubai.

The study, which was supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, used quantitative methods to survey 83 next-generation philanthropists from across the MENA region about their giving motivations, challenges, and priorities.  

Most of the surveyed philanthropists were from the Gulf, the Levant, and Egypt, with a handful based in North America and Europe. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon made up the bulk of the responses (27 percent, 24 percent, and 22 percent, respectively).

More than half interviewees came from entrepreneurship and business backgrounds and 50 had been involved in giving activities for eight or more years.

Of those interviewed for the survey, 80 percent said they were engaging in their philanthropy personally and individually – challenging the long-held assumption that Arab region philanthropy in the region is driven mainly by family foundations and family offices.

“Many of our community members want to give the way they've always given and the way their families have given. But almost 50 percent are seeking out less traditional methods,” Zovighian noted. 

"What was very striking, and this was an important data surprise for us, is that our next generation givers are giving as individuals," Zovighian noted. "They are personalising their giving and bringing in bringing in an entrepreneurial drive and individual drive to their giving...This is very different to our more anecdotal and our more traditional understanding of philanthropy in the region."

Integrity was the most cited “giving value”, followed by empowerment, compassion, sustainability, transparency, and accountability. Community impact and community need also scored very highly when it came to giving motivations and influences.

The data revealed that the least supported causes among MENA next gen donors were arts and culture, environment, human rights, religious causes, international aid, humanitarian development, animal welfare, and science and technology. 

The report also showed that more than two thirds of next-generation givers were dissatisfied with the available ecosystem of support for philanthropic giving.

Almost 40 percent of the sample said they directed their philanthropy nationally, while one fifth focused on local giving, and just under a third supported global causes.

“We wanted to understand the giving priorities, the challenges, and the obstacles getting in the way."

Lynn Zovighian

The data was collected over six months via an exploratory quantitative online survey was deemed the appropriate method of inquiry. The survey employed a mix of question types: closed-ended questions on a Likert scale of 1 to 7 to measure attitudes and opinions, as well as open-ended questions. 

Zovighian explained that the quantitative aspect of the data had presented a number of interesting results. For example, while legacy building, social recognition and religious beliefs were not stated as top giving motivations, there were still correlations between legacy building and other these motivations (such as community impact and social change).

Following the data presentation there were fireside chats with three next-gens exploring the shifting roles of family philanthropy and personal philanthropy, community engagement in regional philanthropy, and the region’s philanthropic ecosystem.

The guest speakers were: Sarina Vaswani, the founder of the Stallion Empowerment Initiative, an NGO focusing on education, healthcare, and youth empowerment in Nigeria; Basma Al Zamil, from Saudi Arabia’s Zamil Group, where she has led on CSR; and Sarah El Battouty, an award-winning Egyptian architect and UN Climate Change High-Level Champion.

The panels were moderated by Lynn Zovighian, Louise Redvers, editor of Philanthropy Age, and Anissa Punjani, the head of Pearl Initiative's Governance in Philanthropy programme.

Grounded in tradition, looking to the future: understanding next-generation philanthropy in the Middle East was a report by ZP and Pearl Initiative, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.You can download the full report here.