Voice After Exit: Diaspora Advocacy By Kathleen Newland, November 2010
Diaspora Philanthropy: Private Giving and Public Policy By Kathleen Newland, Aaron Terrazas, Roberto Munster, September 2010 . . .
Voice After Exit: Diaspora Advocacy By Kathleen Newland
Diasporas seeking to champion causes for their countries of origin are no longer hindered by distance and isolation, as demonstrated by their influence with government, media, private sectors, and other prominent groups in both countries of origin and of settlement. Despite a growing voice, however, advocacy success hinges on smart policy, rooted in unity, commitment, and focus.
This report examines the largely understudied sphere of diaspora advocacy as seen through a wide variety of groups, from humanitarian relief organizations and religious groups to affiliates of political parties and virtual networks. Such advocacy, to a great extent, pushes for issues that affect diaspora members' status in their countries of origin or destination, such as citizenship, migration status, and voting rights; those that affect the homeland, such as human rights, good governance, and political participation; and those that have bilateral implications between countries of origin and settlement, including trade policy, humanitarian relief, and development policy. In general, advocates express identities, acquire influence or resources, present a strong ethnic group consciousness, and work for changes in policies or practices to yield conditions more conducive to development.
Many, but by no means all, diaspora groups and individuals engage in advocacy, which varies widely across targets and issues. And, as with all types of advocacy, each organization has its own constituencies and agendas. This report describes the methods that diasporas can employ (including outreach with international organizations, mass media, and potential allies) to influence governments in their countries of origin and settlement. Direct lobbying, use of traditional and new media campaigns, fundraising, lawsuits, demonstrations, electronic communication, and political participation prove successful when coupled with strategic implementation.
The report concludes that effective advocates must command the right resources and have in place a method to deploy them for maximum impact. Money and fundraising prowess are important resources, but alliances are also invaluable, as are robust connections with influential people. At the same time, the ability of a diaspora to influence policy, and the scope and form such advocacy take, also depend on the "target" country's political system.
If successful, diaspora advocates gain further influence and strength as governments and organizations in turn court their support.
Effective advocates must command the right resources and have in place a method to deploy them for maximum impact.
Diaspora Philanthropy: Private Giving and Public Policy By Kathleen Newland
Diaspora philanthropy — the private donations of diasporas to a wide range of causes in their countries of origin — is not a new phenomenon. Immigrants and their descendants have long maintained substantial ties to their communities of origin, including through voluntary giving. But there are several reasons to believe that diaspora philanthropy is evolving.
The emergence of new development actors. There is a growing recognition of the importance of an array of nongovernmental actors — including the private sector, philanthropies, and migrants — in development policy, and of the unique strengths offered by each.
New trends in global philanthropy. Philanthropy has a long history in the United States. But more philanthropists are focusing on strategic giving aimed at bringing about social change and influencing policy. In addition, online platforms now make it easier for small donors to pool their funds or to give directly to specific initiatives abroad.
New directions in diaspora engagement. The global mobility of talent has resulted in a growing community of highly successful diaspora members. Simultaneously, developing countries are increasing their efforts to maintain ties with their diasporas, and the Internet is making it possible for dispersed populations to organize, collaborate, and nurture ties across borders.
Diaspora philanthropy is characterized by a wide variety of actors with different motivations, objectives, capacities, and impacts. Some individual diaspora donors have the connections and the drive to select their causes and give independently. These individual donors include middle-income and relatively poor migrants — who often give to their hometowns or villages — as well as celebrities, sports stars, entrepreneurs, and industrial magnates. Other diaspora donors choose to donate via intermediaries, either for convenience or to achieve greater impact. Intermediaries are diverse, ranging from hometown- and community-based associations, to faith-based groups and professional networks, to formal diaspora foundations and, more recently, Internet-based philanthropic platforms.
Philanthropy is part of the cultural fabric of many communities, and is driven by complex individual and social dynamics. But it is also affected by public policy in both donor and developing countries.
Such policy can either encourage or discourage philanthropic giving — most notably via tax policy, but also through more targeted initiatives such as matching grant programs, the certification and monitoring of charities and nonprofit groups, and the promotion of Internet-based platforms. Policy can also build capacity among philanthropic groups, help them to monitor the developmental impact of their donations, and invite them to participate in development initiatives. On balance, the role of public policy in relation to diaspora philanthropy is a delicate one: to support and encourage diaspora efforts with a light hand so that philanthropy belongs to the philanthropists and their partners in social investment.