The International Common Assessment of Numeracy (ICAN) was a product of the People’s Action for Learning Network (PAL Network for short), a coalition of 15 education-focused organizations across 14 countries in the Global South that have focused on community-based assessments of learning outcomes. The effort was led by experts from India, Kenya, and 13 other PAL countries who leveraged expertise from partners of the PAL Network like Pratham and the Australian Council for Educational Research.

The PAL Network is also an example of the best contributions that a globally oriented philanthropy can make. The most typical forms of global giving can actually undermine local accountability and perpetuate the dominant position of Northern NGOs. A recent report found that international giving by foundations is at an all-time high, but the dollars flowed mostly to organizations based in the global north: Only 12 percent of international grant dollars were given directly to organizations based in the countries where their programs were implemented, while grants given directly to “local” organizations tended to be smaller and issued with greater scrutiny.

What type of giving can we promote instead? How can philanthropies not only recognize the value of supporting local organizations but also follow through and provide funding in a way that empowers them? How can they broaden their understanding of what constitutes the most relevant, trusted, and technically robust knowledge and evidence and fund accordingly? At a time when many foundations are being called out for what they are doing wrong, we offer examples of international giving done in ways that support empowered communities.

Read the full article about international giving by Dana Schmidt, Dorcas Ansah, Enrique Mendizabal, Rajarshi Singh and Sara Ruto at Stanford Social Innovation Review.