A global education challenge harnessing corporate philanthropy to educate the world’s poor

The first part examines what companies are doing to support global education and estimates that U.S.- based companies give approximately half a billion dollars to education to developing countries annually, more than initially projected based on philanthropy estimates. While this is a large aggregate amount when compared to other major education donors, education receives only a fraction of corporate contributions when compared with the global health sector. The majority of contributions are in the form of cash and companies make larger cash contributions to global education than their foundations. While companies are placing additional emphasis on employee engagement, there is a missed opportunity to mobilize employee contributions of money and skills for education. [...]The second part of the paper explores why companies make philanthropic contributions to education in developing countries. Companies identify many reasons that are strategic to business needs, focusing primarily on community relations, social demand for responsible behavior and brand identifi cation. But the rationale is a narrow view and does not encompass a full vision of how education-based philanthropy in developing countries can create shared value for business and society. The third part explains how companies support global education. There are many actors within a company making decisions about contributions to education in developing countries and these actors do not always align with one global education philanthropy strategy. Companies rely on nonprofi ts to implement philanthropy in the education sector over government partners or larger-scale aid agencies. Additionally, most are short-term contributions and few are coordinated with external entities; these tendencies perpetuate donor fragmentation and are contradictory to some corporate visions of scaling-up education innovations in developing countries. Achieving sustainable education outcomes will require companies to embrace a culture of impact evaluation and to make longer-term, coordinated contributions. The last part of the paper highlights the assets and liabilities of corporate philanthropy for global education. Corporate philanthropy is highly innovative and has several key benefi ts for the education community. At the same time, corporate philanthropy can improve upon several aspects to increase its effectiveness. The study identifi es ten opportunities to achieve greater impact through corporate philanthropy to education in developing countries.

van Fleet, Justin W.
Working Paper
Series volume
Brookings Institution (USA). Center for Universal Education
62 p.
Americas and the Caribbean
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International cooperation in education

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