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UAE philanthropy should be judged on impact, says Sheikha Lubna

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Development and International Cooperation.

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Development and International Cooperation.

The UAE’s efforts to create a ‘culture of giving’ should be measured not just by the country’s generosity, but also by the social impact of its giving, a philanthropy summit was told on Tuesday.

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Development and International Cooperation, said the UAE gives $2bn a year in foreign aid and aims to meet the United Nations’ target of donating 0.7 per cent of gross national income in funding.

“But it is not just about meeting international targets,” she said. “It is also about giving effectively. Giving so that the social impact is measurable and sustainable.

“We don’t want to impact the lives of just tens or hundreds of young people. We want to impact the lives of thousands. We want to deliver real, sustainable results.”

Sheikha Lubna was addressing the Emirates Foundation Philanthropy Summit 2013, a two-day event in Abu Dhabi, which examined a shift in the non-profit sector towards more business-based thinking, and the effective use of funds.

“Across the world, a new trend is emerging that demands a business or enterprise-related approach to philanthropy, with a view to increasing its impact,” she said. “Transparency and accountability drive greater giving. Individuals and organisations give more if they know who or what they are helping.”

Experts from leading philanthropic organisations took part in a panel discussion that debated the transition to so-called venture philanthropy, and the difficulty of measuring social impact.

“It’s not just about money,” said Bathylle Missika, deputy head, policy dialogue division, OECD. “Being bigger doesn’t mean that you’re going to achieve more. What matters is how innovative you are, do you understand what impact means and how to get there?”

The Emirates Foundation itself now favours a venture philanthropy model focused on social returns, rather than just investment, said chief executive Clare Woodcraft.

“The conversation is now about outputs not inputs,” she said.