The potential of charity for development.


Over the last few years there has been a growing interest in the role of charities, philanthropic institutions and foundations in the development process. In part this has been the result of increasing pressure on donor governments support for ODA, and in part the result of the rise of major foundations, for instance the Gates Foundation. The result has been changes in the architecture of aid and increasing interest into what can or cannot be achieved by philanthropic and charitable organisations, as well as the general effectiveness of such aid. This briefing considers the potential of indigenous forms of charity to support development activities in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This site was chosen in part because of the high levels of charitable giving reported from Sri Lanka, and the wide range of social and economic conditions found in its capital. The report describes the main features of the Colombo ‘philanthroscape’. It discusses the frequently made distinction between self-interested’ and altruistic behaviour and the degree to which this is valid in the Colombo context. The report examines the relationship between religious identity, the nature of giving, the character of recipients and the impact this has on wider social relations. Finally, the developmental potential of charity in Colombo is examined and the degree to which it can move beyond an interest in social protection towards more transformative interventions.


Stirrat, R.; Widger, T.; Kabir, S.; Osella, F. The potential of charity for development. (2013)

The potential of charity for development.

Published 1 January 2013