Private foundations urged to make aid transparent

A parliamentary report published by the UK’s International Development Committee (IDC) has recommended that private foundations delivering aid money sign up to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) to improve their transparency and accountability.

The report highlights that whilst private foundations are responsible for delivering a large amount of aid money, there is little detail on how it is spent:

“The volume, distribution and targeting of foundation spending is currently unclear […] Compared to traditional donors, foundation reporting is weak, especially in Europe.”

The Committee has called on the Department for International Development (DfID) to encourage both large and small foundations to make their aid spending more transparent, and ‘pre-empt the need to move to this kind of mandatory regulation on the UK’.

Dr. Watson, from the Institute of Development Studies warned that ‘the ways in which the development and philanthropic sectors work together are often unclear, so the potential for innovation and greater effectiveness can be missed.’

By publishing their information to IATI, the common international standard for reporting aid information, private foundations’ aid activities would be comparable with that of foundations already publishing (such as the Hewlett Foundation) but also to recipient and donor governments, multilateral institutions, and non-governmental organisations around the world. Since the IATI standard was agreed in early 2011, aid agencies representing 74% of official development finance are now committed to publishing their aid information by 2015.

With comprehensive, timely and comparable information about what other aid actors are doing and planning, aid can be spent more effectively, and governments and organisations can be held to account for the way aid is allocated and delivered.

Read the International Development Committee report here.

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