Bolder Giving - Give More, Risk more, Inspire more
Karen Keating Ansara and Jim Ansara

| Northeast | at least 50% |
| International |

Comments (16)

Posted on November 24th by Molly Lamphear

I was disappointed to see that little attention is focused on Africa, a continent that has and is being greatly impacted by climate change. This affects the whole chain of events that lead to poverty. There have been a good deal of 'band aid' responses that have given immediate relief to sub-Saharan Africa, but this does not break the cycle of poverty nor the reliance on short term fixes. The International Livestock Research Institute (www.ilri.org)is engaged in a variety of research 'themes' that are aimed at providing pathways out of poverty. Research into identifying viruses and finding ways to eliminate or reduce their affect on livestock, working with geneticists (both plant and animal) to develop more hardy plants and more resistant livestock, working with women to train and empower them as vital contributors to the market chain, and many, many more such projects will be a first line of defense against poverty. Yet, these research efforts don't gain front page news nor do they pull at heartstrings. Funding is always a problem, even more so in this economic climate.
I would value any feedback with regard to identifying funders who share the vision of ILRI.
Thank you,
Molly Lamphear
Volunteer, Resource Mobilization
International Livestock Research Institute

Posted on November 22nd by Karen Keating Ansara

Dear Colleagues,
I am very sorry that my phone stopped transmitting my voice -- even though I could hear you! Also, I was traveling without easy access to the internet, and am sorry for my delay in responding. You are welcome to contact me at . I am always aware of how much more there is for me to learn and how many valid approaches there are to funding overseas. Your views are just as important, and I hope the conversation continues.
I was asked for statistics on the amount of international giving and aid. Within about a month we should launch a website for our fund under www.ansarafamilyfund.org, and they will be there. In short: in 2008 only 4% of all philanthropy went to International Affairs -- equivalent to only .06% of 1% of our GDP. Only 6 cents of every $100 of the federal 2009 budget is targetted to address global poverty. The U.S. ranks below 20 other countries in the proportion of GDP given to foreign aid. Sadly, much government-to-government aid does not get to where it is intended. Thus private philanthropy, well-focussed and strategic, is indispensible to solving global problems.
Thank you for your interest! Best, Karen

Posted on November 22nd by Karen Keating Ansara

Dear Sandra,
Unfortunately we are not funding in Africa at this time, simply because we have never traveled there and don't have the knowledge base or contacts that we do in the other countries. I do want to recommend a great project, www.womenstrust.org, a small microfinance project in one community in Ghana, run by a great American woman, Dana Dakin. This project has won acclaim for its thoughtful and effective approach to empowering women. It works in one community, to get the model right. Helping to transform one community can be very meaningful, especially to a new funder.

Posted on November 22nd by Karen Keating Ansara

Dear Molly,
I wish I could do site visits to them all, but it is not possible because of my children and the long distances, and at times the danger (e.g. Afghanistan and Nepal.) We develop close working relationships with staff of some of our grantees. We get excellent proposals and reports from others. Good reports make a big difference in our decisions to continue funding. We go through a lengthy process to make our first grant but will often renew without a proposal based on a report. Reports don't have to share all good news, by any means. I am often most impressed when the reports share obstances and failures. I value transparency and continual learning in grantees.

Posted on November 22nd by Karen Keating Ansara

Dear Carmen,
Excellent point. Grantcraft offers an excellent, concise guide to the pros and cons of funding through intermediaries at http://www.grantcraft.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewpage&;pageid=932. I believe this has great merit, particularly in conflict zones and complicated contexts, because they can assess political situations and the needs of particular organizations day-by-day, in ways I can not. After visiting Guatemala this year, I came to believe that funding the Global Fund for Human Rights was the wisest course. We also enjoy funding organizations directly so that we can feel more connected to the work and develop relationships with staff. That engagement sustains our interest. To this date, however, they all have US 501c3 status.

Posted on November 22nd by Karen Keating Ansara

Dear Marion,
I like your self-description as having a calling as an "encourager," because I think that is a very valuable quality to bring to philanthropy. I can not bring business acumen to my grantees, but I can and enjoy developing personal relationships with the staff and encouraging them in their work, beyond my check. They are often extremely overextended personally, and seem to appreciate the support.
I recommend becoming a member of Grantmakers Without Borders (www.gwob.net), which offers a succinct yet meaty weekly newsletter with short abstracts of key articles and notices about conferences on topics of international social change work and philanthropy. I have learned a great deal from these. In addition, I learned an enormous amount from participating in The Philanthropy Workshop West's training program for philanthopists (www.tpwwest.org). Via four separate weeks of workshops with 14 other funders on both coasts and in a developing country, TPWW trains funders to think about the complexity of problems to be addressed and ways to intervene philanthropically to make an impact.

Posted on November 22nd by Karen Keating Ansara

Dear Mike,
In fact we have a "portfolio" of grantees, if you will, that reflect mid-size to very large grantees. Our largest grant goes to a Nepal-based NGO, dZi Foundation, which is under $1m in budget. Our second largest goes to Oxfam International, which covers all the anti-poverty bases worldwide. We provide both general operating support funding to Oxfam, and area-specific, in funding their policy and advocacy staff in Kabul, Afghanistan. We also fund ACCION, microfinance organization, Partners in Health, International Development Enterprises, which all have large budgets. We think one gains a lot from the breadth of reach and depth of expertise from these BINGOs, "Big International NGOs! On the other hand, we like to help build the capacity of smaller organizations with multi-year grants, so fund some of them, too.

Posted on November 22nd by Karen Keating Ansara

Dear Paul,
This is an important question. We do consider context and have chosen somewhat different interventions to end poverty in different reasons. For instance, in Afghanistan we are focussed on training women NGO leaders and health care providers; in Ecuador we are supporting Fair Trade enterprises to bring better wages and working conditions to workers through a sustainable model, plus social premiums for investment by the workers in their communities; in Nicaragua we have focussed on clean water and sanitation and microfinance (although microfinance is under siege there now); and in Nepal we have focussed on reaching the lowest castes and the most remote areas with agricultural training, education, and community-initiated projects inputs; in Haiti it is health care to keep people alive. Chosing contextual approaches has come from our sense of the most dire needs of the country as well as our sense of the strongest organizations available to meet the needs. In terms of impact, we look for NGOS that measure it both quantitatively and qualitatively; much impact can only be expressed in stories and words, not in metrics. We do not do independent impact evaluations, but rely on those of the partners/grantees. Finding organizations you can trust -- and fund over several years -- has been key for us.

Posted on November 12th by Anne Ellinger

Question from Sandra Washburn, who was on the call today: Could anyone tell me more about projects in Africa?

Posted on November 12th by Anne Ellinger

Question from Molly Stranahan, who was on the call today: How do you learn enough about each program you fund - do you do site visits?

Posted on November 12th by Anne Ellinger

Question from Carmen, who was on the call today: I wonder if people recommend funding overseas projects/groups *directly* or giving money to outstanding US intermediaries which fund local groups that they have selected. Are both approaches equally good or have major differences, challenges, benefits?

Posted on November 12th by Anne Ellinger

Question from Marion Palmer, on the call today:
Can you suggest some links to organizations that would help as I attempt to give strategically? Especially the groups you mentioned on the call today. Thanks!

Posted on November 12th by Anne Ellinger

We had a teleconference today with Karen with 23 people on the line. Great conversation -- and tantalizing, as there was so much more to say. We also had some technical difficulties, so I'm posting here the questions that didn't get relayed on our CoverItLive system.
Question from Mike Schaefer, on the call today: Karen, I'm curious why you don't work with the big international groups - CARE, Oxfam, World Vision, PATH - it's so much easier for tax accounting, it's more sustainable in the local communities and there's more and more of these NGOs showing up everyday. Do these organizations somehow not meet your needs?

Posted on November 12th by Paul Penley

Karen,
I am a research analyst at a full-service philanthropic advisory firm called Excellence in Giving that manages the grant-making process for charitable families. Our goal is to connect clients with the most effective projects around the world that match their personal passions to solve certain problems.
Here is the question I wanted to ask you on the call today before you dropped off. How do you track the impact and contextual appropriateness of the work you support internationally?
Thanks. Paul.

Posted on November 1st by Karen Keating Ansara

Dear Elizabeth,
I am so moved by your personal story and the views of your work in Burma that I see on the Brackett Refugee Education Fund website. I think it is critical for philanthropy to be an outgrowth of one's personal experience -- as it has been in your case -- so that the commitment can be sustained over many years and so that a funder's personal passion for the issue can be conveyed to others.
I would be happy to add you to the e-mailing list for New England International Donors. While all our events are in Boston at this time, it may give you ideas for starting a similar network in your area. Our network -- volunteer run at this point -- is geared towards individual donors, grantmakers, social investors, and philanthropic advisors and provides strategic networking, edcuational opportunities and information sharing to spark donor action and collaboration.
All the best,
Karen Keating Ansara

Posted on October 30th by Elizabeth Brackett

Thanks, Karen, for this story. It is somewhat like ours – as college professors nearing retirement Tom and I spent 7 months living in a refugee camp in Thailand. We have gone back every year to be with these people and to do what we could for them. It became the focus of our retirement years. With encouragement from our friends we formed our own public charity for refugee education, and got 501(c)3 status. Since then we've been asking family, friends, colleagues, and former students to help. This was the hardest step of all – that appeal to others for funds. But it works – and multiplies what we can put into the Fund more than ten fold. All of our funds are spent overseas, so we are raising funds here to spend in Thailand and India. We'd be interested in your NEID organization. Liz Brackett
 
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