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Philanthropy Prize Awarded To Doug Rutzen and ICNL

WINGS Forum, Mexico City, February 22-24, 2017

ICNL President Doug Rutzen has been awarded the 2017 Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS) IMAGine Prize. The award is presented every three years to recognize an individual or organization that has provided exemplary service to strengthen, connect and support the philanthropy sector around the world.


During Rutzen’s 22 years at ICNL, the organization has worked in over 100 countries to support and defend civil society and philanthropy. Among other initiatives, ICNL:

  • Helped to create enabling laws for philanthropy in countries around the world, from Kosovo to Iraq to Mexico.
  • Pioneered research on the legal environment for philanthropy, including through partnerships with the Council on Foundations (Global Philanthropy Program) and the Hudson Institute (Index of Philanthropic Freedom).
  • Enlisted the support of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and President Barack Obama to help defend civil society and philanthropy against the rising wave of restrictions.
  • Advanced a multilateral approach to protecting philanthropy – ICNL generated the idea for a UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, worked to bring this idea to fruition and has since been supporting the mandate.
  • Most recently, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, produced the first-ever Philanthropy Law Reports for countries including China, India, and Saudi Arabia.


In his seminal report “Aid Barriers and the Rise of Philanthropic Protectionism,” Rutzen analyzes challenges confronting global philanthropy and ways to overcome these challenges.


In his address to the WINGS Forum today, Rutzen called on participants to join together in a movement to protect civic space and civic freedom. Most importantly, Rutzen said, civil society can provide safe spaces for dialogue and understanding at the community level.


“Let us not be passive observers as history is made by others,” Rutzen said. “Instead, let’s reach out and gain strength from one another - and then let’s reach up and bend the proverbial arc of history together.”