Global Philanthropy in a Time of Crisis

Global Trends in NGO Law, Volume 1, Issue 2 (May 2009)

As the global financial crisis continues to cut into corporate profits, slash endowments, and exacerbate government deficits, policy makers and other interested stakeholders in the global philanthropic community brace for the impact. At the same time, the crisis has fueled a rising need for charitable support. By one estimate, the crisis has “already driven more than 50 million people into extreme poverty, particularly women and children.”

Both government and private donors around the world are seeking ways to protect the neediest even as resources become more scarce. As some countries have shown, laws designed to facilitate philanthropy and remove barriers to cross border giving can play an important role in meeting such development goals. Nonetheless, a number of governments have continued to raise barriers to cross border philanthropy, even as the economic crisis deepens.

In this issue of Global Trends we examine legal developments affecting global philanthropy, particularly obstacles to foreign philanthropy and assistance. In Section I, we consider the most recent laws, draft laws, and government actions restricting cross‐border giving. Section II examines potential responses to these restrictions.