Where the U.S. and the Middle East Think Alike

Feb 25 2014, 1:04pm CST | by

As I was perusing this year’s “BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index,” which measures commitment to giving in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, I was struck by how often the U.S. and the Middle East move in tandem.

One of the Index survey questions was about the urgency of the need for philanthropy in the world. Philanthropists from two seemingly disparate regions, the U.S. and the Middle East, are outliers. Many more, 64% in the U.S. and 61% in the Middle East, consider the situation in the world in urgent need of philanthropy than do respondents from Europe (49%) and Asia (48%).

Barbara Ibrahim, founding director of the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement, at the American University in Cairo, explains why respondents from the Middle East feel so strongly about the level of urgency: “Philanthropy is a basic value in Arab and Muslim culture. It is reinforced by the religious edict that all believers must give a portion of their wealth, however small, to those less fortunate. In that sense, giving is almost ‘written in the DNA’ of people in this part of the world.”

She also comments on the similarities between the U.S. and the Middle East: “The United States is still a deeply religious country, with high proportions of adults attending church and giving through religious institutions. I think this is a major common feature between the U.S. and the Middle East. A secondary consideration is that both regions have low or absent taxes, which makes it incumbent on citizens to fund many kinds of social services the governments are not providing.”

The heightened perception of urgency by Americans may be because they generally see philanthropy as an important factor much more than people in other countries. Philanthropy has been part of the fabric of American life for 200 years. In addition, in America, many organizations that in other countries are funded by the state, such as premier research institutions, as well as some medical research, are funded by private philanthropy. The philanthropic sector plays a much bigger role in the economy in the U.S. than in other countries.

Both regions also stand out by selecting social change as one of the top three issues for philanthropy in the world. Ibrahim observes that “in both parts of the world there is a heightened sense of the gap between rich and poor, and a feeling that private citizens should do more to close the gap. Europeans are more likely to expect their governments to address these problems. In addition, in both the U.S. and the Middle East, there is intense dissatisfaction with the current state of governance and desire for reform—or in some cases, revolution.”

Respondents from the U.S. and the Middle East also believe that the need for philanthropy is more urgent in their own country than in the world overall. Interestingly, both European and Asian respondents see the need for philanthropy in their countries as less urgent than in the world as a whole.

Americans’ local bent is not due solely to the income disparity and the pullback of government funding within the U.S. One of the reasons that Americans see more urgency inside the U.S. is because some are still much less focused on world affairs than citizens of other countries, according to Melissa Berman, CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. They are more likely to feel uncertain about providing philanthropy outside the U.S., feeling that problems outside the U.S. can’t be solved by Americans, she says.

While Americans’ awareness of international issues has heightened since the 9/11 attacks, a central question is whether U.S. philanthropists feel empowered to be helpful internationally. The challenges include knowing how to help while not being on the ground, and navigating cultural sensibilities.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Exercise and fasting could boost brain's functions
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) Exercise along with occasional fasting is good for boosting the brain's neurons, shows a new research.
 
 
One infant dies in Pakistan hospital
Islamabad, Nov 23 (IANS) One more infant died due to lack of oxygen in an incubator and negligence of the hospital administration in Pakistan, bringing the number of such deaths to 19 in the past five days.
 
 
American whiskey faces challenge in whisky-gulping India
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) For the most part Indians love things American, but when it comes to their tipple, the world's largest whisky drinkers usually go for Scotch or their very own home-made brands.
 
 
Tiny shrimps hold clue to alien life
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) A tiny shrimp residing at one of the world's deepest undersea hydrothermal vents holds clues about what life could be like on other planets, NASA scientists report.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Ashton Irwin was close to death
5 Seconds of Summer's Ashton Irwin was hours away from death when he had his appendix removed. The 20-year-old hunk decided to check himself in to hospital last month after feeling unwell, but has now revealed he could...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Jessie J reveals ideal man
Jessie J wants to marry a man like her dad. The 'Bang Bang' hitmaker - who is dating singer Luke James - admires the dynamic between her parents and admits her perfect guy would have similar qualities to her social...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Anne Hathaway's husband keeps her grounded
Anne Hathaway's husband helps her stay grounded. The 'Interstellar' star, who married jewelry designer Adam Shulman in Big Sur, California in September 2012, reportedly couldn't wait to get back to see him in Los...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Bayern Munich increase Bundesliga advantage
Berlin, Nov 23 (IANS) Bayern Munich extended their lead atop the Bundesliga standings with a 4-0 win over Hoffenheim as Schalke upset runner-up Wolfsburg 3-2 and Frankfurt shocked Monchengladbach with a comeback win....
Read more on Sport Balla
 
A8 Chip of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus Can Handle 4K Videos
The outstanding features of the A8 chip are continuing to be revealed, as the processor is found to have the capability of playing 4K videos on the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.According to Mac Rumors, the fact has...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
One infant dies in Pakistan hospital
Islamabad, Nov 23 (IANS) One more infant died due to lack of oxygen in an incubator and negligence of the hospital administration in Pakistan, bringing the number of such deaths to 19 in the past five days. The death...
Read more on Business Balla
 
American whiskey faces challenge in whisky-gulping India
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) For the most part Indians love things American, but when it comes to their tipple, the world's largest whisky drinkers usually go for Scotch or their very own home-made brands. Indians...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Tiny shrimps hold clue to alien life
Washington, Nov 23 (IANS) A tiny shrimp residing at one of the world's deepest undersea hydrothermal vents holds clues about what life could be like on other planets, NASA scientists report. These tiny shrimps in the...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Katy Perry hits back at Australian media
Los Angeles, Nov 23 (IANS) Singer Katy Perry has called the paparazzi in Australia "perverted" and "disgusting" for following her along the beach and for asking her to pose during her visit to the country for her...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Tiger Woods gets new swing coach
Miami, Nov 23 (IANS) Former World No.1 golfer Tiger Woods said that he has named Chris Como as new swing coach. Como is the fourth swing coach for Woods since the American turned professional in 1996, reports Xinhua...
Read more on Sport Balla