Abu Dubai – MENA Herald: Speaking at the Emirates Foundation Youth Philanthropy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises and Founder of the Pearl Initiative, urged charities and philanthropic foundations across the Middle East to adopt sound business principles through corporate governance, to ensure their long-term sustainability and multiply their impact.

Badr Jafar stated, “The lines between philanthropy, business and our social lives are increasingly blurring, making it more important than ever for governments, businesses and the not-for-profit sector to work more closely together in lifting the standards of governance – allowing each and every one to perform better for our society as a whole.”

Over $1.8bn in contributions to charity were made in 2013, by Gulf businesses and corporate foundations, a majority of which went towards disaster relief and humanitarian causes, according to the Coutts Donors Report 2014. In addition, reports show between 200 billion to one trillion dollars are donated through Zakat and Sadaqa across the Muslim World each year. Jafar commented, “With these huge sums of money being donated every year, the need to know exactly where that money is flowing, and what impact it is creating, is no longer a luxury. It is critical.”

“By enforcing transparency and accountability, organisations raise levels of trust, a forward-facing metric of stakeholder expectation, which is increasingly considered the most valuable commodity in the system and produces a result that is two-fold,” Jafar added. “Not only can doing so improve the quantity of funds they are able to raise, but can also improve the quality of those funds by making donation flows more reliable and sustainable.”

Jafar is Founder of the Pearl Initiative, the leading independent private sector-led, not-for-profit institution working across the region to influence and improve corporate accountability, transparency and governance. The initiative is in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships. Since 2010, the Pearl Initiative has led and participated in numerous programmes across the GCC to increase the private sector’s adoption of strong corporate governance policies; something that the non-profit sector also stands to benefit from.

“The growth of digital communications and social media has also enabled even greater accessibility to giving and created a generation of more informed, experienced and active donors,” Jafar added. “This means donors need to behave more like investors and strive to maximize their social returns.”

He concluded, “Responsible charities, just like commercial businesses, should never wait for regulation to make them do the things they know makes sense. Instead, they should aspire to surpass the standards of the best-performing global organisations.”  

The two-day Emirates Foundation Youth Philanthropy Summit, held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of Emirates Foundation, was held under the theme: ‘Philanthropy in Transition: Maximizing Impact Through Deploying Top Talent’.