Private Foundations Start To Edge Out Some Countries In International Aid Donations

A new report on global giving shows there has been a big shift in recent years in who is giving and receiving international aid. The U.S. remains the largest donor, giving out more than $30 billion each year. But now large sums of money are coming from private foundations and corporations and even countries who only a few years ago were recipients themselves.

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There's been a significant shift in international aid in recent years. Less money is coming from large donor nations and more is coming from private foundations, corporations, even countries that only a few years ago were recipients of aid themselves.

NPR's Jason Beaubien tells us more.

JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, remains the largest donor on the planet, doling out more than $30 billion each year. But over the last decade, other players have been elbowing their way in to the global aid and development world.

The 800-pound gorilla is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which also gives to NPR. The Gates Foundation pours billions of dollars into development projects and disease eradication around the world, giving more each year than most European nations. Private corporations including huge multinationals - such as Pfizer, Merck, Exxon and Unilever - are setting aside hundreds of millions of dollars to buy good will in what they see as emerging markets. And countries that not too long ago were the recipients of international aid themselves are getting involved in global giving.

MARSHALL STOWELL: Countries like China, countries like India.

BEAUBIEN: Marshall Stowell is with the nonprofit aid group PSI, which just came out with a new report on giving for global health. Stowell says that this new mix of philanthropic players is leading to more innovative development programs.

STOWELL: So you've got philanthropists at the front end funding risk and pilot projects. You've got foundations bringing those to scale so that donor governments can then say, all right, we can invest in that, we know it's a sure thing and we can move it forward to many countries reaching millions of people.

BEAUBIEN: And a relatively new donor nation, such as Brazil, may be in a far better position to help out in South America than a European development agency. Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Washington.

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