IOs Being Funded by the Private Sector

International organisations (IOs) are very often funded by private companies or private foundations. Does this lead to a perilous partnership that endangers the idealistic goals of IOs or does it mainly help IOs in securing their global progress?  

The United Nations and business need each other. We need your innovation, your initiative, your technological prowess. But business also needs the United Nations. In a very real sense, the work of the United Nations can be viewed as seeking to create the ideal enabling environment within which business can thrive.

– United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The UN is a huge Intergovernmental organization with many specialized agencies and organs. This link with information deals with the UN and the private sector in general. 

The WHO relies on contributions from member states (both assessed and voluntary) and private donors for funding. 

IOM’s vision and commitment to working with businesses, foundations and private individuals goes well beyond traditional fundraising and recognizes that the active participation of the private sector is crucial to advance humanitarian and development objectives. IOM sees the private sector both as a partner and an important stakeholder in tackling today’s pressing migration challenges, most notably the Sustainable Development Goals and commitments made at other summits including the recent World Humanitarian Summit.

© 2016 International Organization for Migration (IOM)

The Vaccine Alliance GAVI is a very fine example of an IO who has been working tightly with the private sector. GAVI has been praised for being effective, and less bureaucratic than multilateral government institutions like the WHO. On the other hand critical voices have raised concerns that donors increasingly perceive that they can more easily exert influence through public-private GHIs than through what they often refer to as the ‘unwieldy’ traditional intergovernmental system of governance. GAVI receivs big amounts of funding from especially the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who is one of the founding partners of the Vaccine Alliance.

The United Nations Foundation (UNF) and the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) were both founded as a result of the huge 1 billion dollar donation by the businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner in 1998. The UNF and UNFIP both work tightly with the entire UN family, the biggest intergovernmental actor in the world. 

According to the web page of the IRRI the mission of this IO is the following: 

IRRI is dedicated to abolishing poverty and hunger among people and populations that depend on rice-based agri-food systems. Through our work and partnerships, we aim to improve the health and welfare of rice farmers and consumers; promote environmental sustainability in a world challenged by climate change; and support the empowerment of women and the youth in the rice industry.

Our research for development is characterized by its collaborative nature: from alliances with advanced research institutes; through strong collaborations and capacity development with governments and national agricultural research and extension systems; to partnerships with the development sector and our ability to broker novel delivery channels through the private sector. IRRI’s work is supported by a diverse network of investors aligned to common goals.

The IRRI was founded with support of the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Today the IRRI receivs a lot of funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Check out the links to the left for more information! 

The International Potato Center (CIP) seeks to reduce poverty and achieve food security on a sustained basis in developing countries through scientific research and related activities on different kinds of potato and root and tuber crops. The CIP receivs funding from a lot of funders and also works tightly with a big amount of corporations. 

It is not unusual for IOs to adopt some sort of guidelines on the acceptance of funds to ensure funds are only accepted from appropriate sources, and will advance work that is consistent with the objectives of the IO. This adoption will at the very least paint a picture of an IO acting in the ethically correct manner. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) works for the noble cause of proper conservation of whale stocks and the orderly development of the whaling industry. The IWC has adopted guidelines on the acceptance of funds. The IWC has also adopted a code of ethical fundraising.