Project Inspired: stories of impactful philanthropy from the Arab region

An unprecedented collection of video interviews and case studies profiling some of the region’s leading philanthropists and nonprofit initiatives  

What motivates someone to become a philanthropist? How do they select causes to champion? How do they define success and measure impact?

Project Inspired seeks to answer these questions, and more, through an unprecedented collection of video interviews and case studies, drawn from conversations with some of the Arab region’s leading philanthropists and nonprofit initiatives. 

Spearheaded by the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE) and Philanthropy Age, with support from The Bridgespan Group and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Project Inspired shares insights, learnings and best practices from the perspectives of experienced donors. 

Philanthropists profiled on the dual-language platform include Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Raja Easa Al Gurg, Kamel Lazaar, Omar Al-Qattan, Munib R. MasriSamih Sawiris, and Khalid Rashid Al Zayani

The interviewees - some of whom are speaking openly for the first time about their philanthropy - discuss their giving and how they measure impact, as well as their beliefs, goals, and the lessons they’ve learned on their philanthropic journeys. 

Project Inspired also profiles bold philanthropic initiatives delivering impact in areas such as hunger, poverty alleviation and public health. Featuring organisations including the Arab region’s first donor collaborative, Shefa Fund, and its first venture philanthropy organisation, Alfanar, the case studies share practical learnings from nonprofits improving the lives of those in need across the Middle East.

Al Ghurair, chairman of the AGFE, said the platform was a valuable resource to inspire and encourage donors to think strategically about their giving.   

“Our collaborative work encourages sharing experiences, lessons learnt and values,” he said. “These excellent case studies showcase how quality giving approaches can have successful results."

He added: “Strategic philanthropy is not new to the Arab world and I am confident that the knowledge and experience shared amongst my peers in the Arab philanthropy space will inspire more giving, using an approach that is based on successful business practices.” 

Robert Rosen, director of philanthropic partnerships at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “Project Inspired is an excellent initiative that spotlights some of the region’s most impactful nonprofits and philanthropic initiatives to increase awareness about their efforts and those they are seeking to serve.

"It also spotlights leading philanthropists from across the Middle East, enabling them to share the successes, setbacks and learnings from their giving journeys, and inspire others to give with more impact."

Rosen said he hoped Project Inspired would add to the discussion and debate of the role of philanthropy in the Middle East. "All too often these regional voices are missing from the global dialogue on philanthropy."

Participating philanthropist Omar Al-Qattan, who supports arts and education in Palestine and the Arab diaspora through the A M Qattan foundation, said: "There is great value in peer-to-peer learning for philanthropists. I truly believe there is a lot to be gained from an open discussion about what works, what may not, and how we can complement each other with what we do.

"I am proud of the work that the foundation does, and I hope that by taking part in this project, we will be able to inspire other philanthropists within the region and beyond."

Khalid Al Zayani, chairman of the Bahrain-based Rashid Al Zayani Charity Foundation, said he hoped the platform would drive new discussion around the role of philanthropy in the Arab region.

“I wanted to share the experiences of our foundation and hopefully inspire others to support and empower those in need,” he said. “Collaboration is an important part of philanthropy, but unfortunately, in this region, we see a lot of duplication because we lack open discussion about who is doing what, where.”

Visit Project Inspired to learn more about how impactful philanthropy is supporting sustainable change in the Arab region and beyond.