Liberia’s Philanthropic Marketplace

According to the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Prosperity, the total amount of non-commercial money flowing from the U.S. to the developing world in 2008 was $107.3 billion. To put that in perspective, government dollars or Official Development Assistance (ODA) amounted to only $26.8 billion. The astonishing amount of money that is available from givers across the globe has enormous potential for relief and development, but that money must be channeled to see any substantial impact. So how do you optimize these dollars?

After emerging from a 14-year civil war, Liberia is learning to harness the power of philanthropy.  President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has recognized the magnitude and potential of private philanthropy. She has established the Liberian Philanthropy Secretariat (LPS) to coordinate philanthropic efforts in Liberia. The LPS is unique in Africa and a potential model for other countries.

The LPS is a quasi-governmental entity that helps to channel philanthropic inflows to areas in the country where it can have the biggest impact. The LPS doesn’t handle any money itself; instead it acts as a clearinghouse for would-be givers by providing information on foundations and organizations active in Liberia and the corresponding projects, goals and locations.

Besides pairing givers to projects, the LPS also coordinates philanthropic initiatives on the ground in Liberia. The numerous projects that are active in Liberia can overlap or even conflict with one another, so the LPS shares information and helps to coordinate philanthropic partners on the ground. By doing so, according to the LPS website, the secretariat can “amplify the effect of philanthropic endeavors.”

Through information sharing, matchmaking, and coordinating activities, the LPS creates a philanthropic marketplace and brings order to the cacophony of charitable organizations involved in Liberia. Beyond these primary functions, though, how can the LPS be used to leverage those philanthropic inflows for economic development rather than just relief efforts?

Visit the links below to learn more about the Liberian Philanthropy Secretariat: