With a burgeoning philanthropic landscape and a rich tradition of giving, philanthropy is often thought to have a life of its own in the Arab region.
Despite a budding philanthropy eco-system and the most well intended efforts of academia, the role of academia and research support organizations in advancing philanthropic practices in the Arab region is still not fully comprehended and/or embraced by both policy-makers and practitioners alike.
A number of supply and demand side factors can be contributing to this disconnect.
On the supply side, academia might not be delivering its message across to philanthropy practitioners in a timely and actionable manner; it is not grasping or keeping abreast with what the issues on the ground are; or there is not enough effort invested in communicating research findings.
On the demand side, practitioners can be too busy to listen and engage with academics or do not recognize the relevance of research for effective philanthropic practices.
While it is difficult to assess which factors are more at play, however, it is important to contextualize how academia and research organizations can be better connected with practitioners and the Arab philanthropy eco-system. This is an issue of concern especially that the few academic institutions that do adopt philanthropy as a primary area of research are spread thin.
These areas of contribution are not meant to comprise the be all end all of a more connected relationship between philanthropy and academia, but simply to provide a nuanced view of where academia can better serve the sector. But only when this connection is not be modeled as a one way relationship but as a dynamic, iterative and mutually reinforcing one can a meaningful change take place.
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