America is a land of immigrants, many of whom have found success and prospered in the new world. As a result, many Americans have felt compelled to give back to their home communities in the form of diaspora philanthropy. Andrew Carnegie, the father of modern strategic philanthropy, was an early pioneer of giving back to his homeland. Carnegie sent millions back to his country of origin (Scotland), which greatly impacted many sectors, including education, science, and social justice. Besides the Carnegie Corporation, many well-respected foundations were begun by immigrants, including the Skoll Foundation and the Omidyar Network.

Although diaspora philanthropy is not new, the trend is experiencing an upsurge in attention. In addition, the players and motives are changing as both charities and governments find common ground on issues such as social justice and policy change abroad – and working together to find solutions for these issues. Advances in technology make it possible for developing countries to collaborate with their diasporas across borders.

Notably, the Irish and Turkish diaspora populations have helped raise the bar for sending remittances from all around the world. Organizations such as the International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA) and Diaspora Matters exist to promote engagement among diaspora populations through philanthropy, entrepreneurship, policy, and innovation. In addition, CAAP staff helps Arab Americans support organizations in their home countries that hold 501©(3) status in the United States through donor-advised funds, expert advice, and technical support for transnational giving.

Photo credit: Neal

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