High impact philanthropy: making a difference in Latin America.

Author:Rosqueta, Kat

Philanthropic funders think carefully about how much money to give to organizations and projects that strive to tackle challenging problems of development and inequality. One of the tricks of the trade is to get the amount right, giving enough money at the right time to support efforts to combat poverty, improve health and education and help build resilient communities. Funding of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) must be calibrated to fit the needs of the project and the ability of the NGO to administer funds and deliver services.

The art of philanthropy also requires selecting those projects where a donation can produce the most favorable results for people in need and their communities. The team of researchers at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania studies the social impact of projects in order to help funders worldwide produce more good through their giving. Our research has identified programs in Latin America that successfully achieve social impact. We offer tips for funders by citing examples of programs that have been shown to pave promising pathways to progress in Latin America.

1) Support evidence-based programs. Research shows that "graduation model" programs, which help ultra-poor women gradually increase their income and assets can successfully move families out of extreme poverty. One such program, Chemen Lavi Miyo, of Fonkoze in Haiti, provides women with assets-materials for constructing a 96-sq feet home with a sturdy roof and latrine and a water filter and offers support for each woman to launch two income-producing activities of her choice, including raising various types of livestock or selling merchandise. During the past decade, the program has served more than 3,600 ultra-poor women, and 97 percent of them have successfully "graduated" out of extreme poverty.

Research also shows that community-based delivery of health care and prevention is an effective way to improve health of the most vulnerable members of underserved communities, such as women and children. Organizations like Curamericas in Guatemala and Hospital Albert Schweitzer and Partners in Health in Haiti rely on community health workers to provide health education, immunizations, maternity care, and other services. This community-centered approach leads to improved health outcomes, including drops in maternal and child mortality and lower rates of infectious disease.

2) Partner to expand impact. Donors who want to...

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