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The Global Scan

The Global Scan on Philanthropic Responses to COVID 19 (and its effects) 

As part of our 2020 Year on Power programme, we started a research project spanning six months in an effort to better understand the picture of global philanthropic responses to COVID-19 and its effects, across geographies and three-time horizons. We invited over 30 funders from five continents to take part in a reflective global exchange on whether they changed the way they dispersed funds, made decisions about their funding practices and governance, coordinated and allied with others within and across their sector and country, and sought guidance from other sources, peer groups and bodies.

Philanthropy at a time of Change and Uncertainty

Since 2015, the SIX Funders Node has been convening individuals in philanthropic organisations from around the world, to help them address the complex and urgent challenges of today. Through a series of small, carefully curated meetings over the years, a collaborative support group for foundations has been developing – one that has created a space for critical friends and pushed the boundaries of social change.

What is keeping funders awake at night?

The Year on Power is a direct response to two things: six years of developing content around the big questions keeping funders awake at night and extensive research amongst our peers hard-pressed to find enough of what we’re now trying to do ourselves. In the past, we’ve convened around niche, marginal topics which have since become more mainstream, providing the space for reflective, transformative encounters, which are embedded in relationships, practice and long term thinking.

Podcast and press

We were interested in what these insights would mean for the way funders operate in the future - how many of these changes were good? Who did they benefit? Which ones might stick? We invited Dame Julia Unwin to help us with our interrogation of philanthropy and power in the form or provocations like 'Living in turbulent times and recentring the conversation' and 'A global pandemic, an economic crisis: What can foundations, philanthropists, and funders do?'.

Some (like the Haiti Community Foundation and Philanthropy New Zealand) wrote articles, which we talked about through press partners and podcasts. Some joined our ongoing series of online learning exchanges, and shared resources which we will be publishing very soon!

Our Global Dialogue series, in partnership with Alliance Magazine, forms part of the Global Scan. Here are some of the articles published so far:

This is not another neat, static report

It wasn’t our intention to make this scan particularly representative. Instead, we wanted not just to spark discussion on what is making philanthropy most effective through time and space - on four continents, across three (past, present, future) time horizons - but also to shed light on the trade-offs and tensions, dilemmas and nuances, which so often become blockers to progressive change.

Global and comparative, modular and dynamic

Around the world, philanthropy is very different, thus is philanthropic response. This scan is a global and comparative picture which will contain a collection of multi-media outputs for our own and our partner’s websites. We’ve taken a modular approach, releasing and updating sections in this project regularly, as many of us still feel like we’re in the eye of the storm. This is not a static report owned by us - it is quite the opposite!

If you would like to offer some feedback, be introduced to some of your peers, or start a conversation about how you could join the global conversation and community, please email We’d love to hear from you!

With special thanks to:
  1. Aga Khan Foundation (AGKF), Kenya

  2. Beautiful Foundation (BF), South Korea

  3. Bedford and Luton Community Foundation (BLCF), UK

  4. BMW Foundation, Germany

  5. CAF Russia, Russia

  6. Firetree Trust, Singapore

  7. Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF), South Africa

  8. Gulbenkian Foundation, UK

  9. Haiti Community Foundation, Haiti

  10. Headwaters Management, USA

  11. ICE, Brazil

  12. Innovation Edge (IE), South Africa

  13. Kate Frykberg (KF), New Zealand

  14. Kilimani Project Foundation (Kilimani), Kenya

  15. Kindred Credit Union, USA

  16. Lemann Foundation, Brazil

  17. McConnell Foundation, Canada

  18. Nesta Italia, Italy

  19. Open Society Foundation (OSF), USA

  20. Reconstruction Women's Fund (RWF), Serbia

  21. Robert Bosch Foundation, Germany

  22. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), US

  23. Star Ghana Foundation, Ghana

  24. Suncor Energy Foundation, Canada

  25. Twikatane Community Foundation, Zambia/UK

  26. Whitman Institute, USA

  27. Zambia Governance Foundation, Zambia