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Pearl Initiative And King Khalid Foundation Launch ’Governance In Philanthropy’ Guide

At a roundtable in Riyadh discussing the implementation of sound governance practices across the Gulf Region’s philanthropic sector

The Pearl Initiative, the Gulf Region’s only private sector led non-profit organisation promoting corporate accountability across the Gulf region, in collaboration with the King Khalid Foundation in Riyadh, launched the ‘Governance in Philanthropy Fundamentals’ guide, as part of its ‘Governance in Philanthropy’ programme.

The new guide seeks to address gaps within the philanthropy ecosystem as identified by research conducted by the Pearl Initiative in 2018. The research found that over 90 percent of donors and non-profits surveyed by the Pearl Initiative believed that while the sector is witnessing significant progress and development, the improvement of governance practices is a key priority for the Gulf Region’s philanthropic sector.

The ‘Governance in Philanthropy Fundamentals’ guide includes practical information and toolkits around governance mechanisms that can be utilised to promote greater efficiency and accountability across the Gulf Region’s philanthropic sector. These are of utmost value, particularly for non-profits that are growing in both size and scope where such tools and governance systems can be effectively leveraged to generate scalable impact.

The application of the guide’s nine tenets; most notably, delegation of authority, risk management, conflict of interest policy, board charter, and staff code of conduct, will support in fostering a culture of good corporate governance within philanthropic organisations, thereby enhancing their ability to deliver on their missions and maintain their reputations, thereby promoting their overall sustainability.

The Pearl Initiative and the King Khalid Foundation recommend that all non-profit organisations and charitable institutions use the guide as a starting point to conduct an independent evaluation of their practices. The toolkits and templates can then be utilised by these organisations and tailored to meet their particular organisational, operational and strategic needs.

The guide was launched during a roundtable session organised jointly by the Pearl Initiative and the King Khalid Foundation in Riyadh, KSA, which convened over 40 leading representatives from the philanthropy sector in the Kingdom to highlight some of the key challenges and opportunities in adopting governance best practices across the non-profit sector in the Gulf Region.

Her Royal Highness Princess Nouf bint Khalid bin AbdulAziz AlSaud, CEO of the King Khalid Foundation, said that good governance of organisations in various sectors is now a global requirement. The SDGs and the Kingdom's Vision 2030 have stated the importance of building strong, effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.

She added: “Our collaboration with our longstanding partner, the Pearl Initiative, signals a reinforcement of our efforts to creating a philanthropic ecosystem in our country and our region, and offers non-profit organisations a clear map towards good governance best practices, transparency and accountability.”

On her part, Yasmine Omari, Executive Director, the Pearl Initiative, said: “Our surveys and research on governance practices within the region’s philanthropic ecosystem reveal that while there are growing numbers of philanthropic and charitable organisations in the region, there is a pressing need to apply and practice good governance as a vital component of building and retaining the trust of donors and ensuring the delivery of the funds to the intended recipients.”

She also added: “By virtue of the work we have carried out, we have learnt that some of the main areas that require further development in the sector include transparency and reporting, deriving value from the board as well as stakeholder management. We are pleased to have the support of the King Khalid Foundation in the development and launch of the ‘Governance in Philanthropy Fundamentals’ guide, which combines our joint expertise and reflects our commitment to further empower the Gulf Region’s philanthropic sector to adopt practical tools for the implementation of governance best practices. We have already seen how the guides can and will influence positive change across philanthropic organisations and are optimistic about the prospect of an ever improving philanthropic ecosystem across the Gulf Region.”

The panel participants, Hammam Zare, General Manager of Majid Society; Lujain Ubaid, Co-Founder of Tasamy; and Naif Al Khalifa, CEO of Hawkamah Solutions, concurred that the right mix of board members taking the lead in driving the organisational mission and fortifying the trust of key stakeholders through clear and consistent reporting is key towards overcoming governance challenges in the sector.   

In addition, they highlighted that foundations and non-profit organisations across the Gulf have, over the years, increased in both size and scope. Their efforts, however, have been impeded by questions on efficiency, strategy and transparency in the sector.

Founded in 2010, the Pearl Initiative is a Gulf business–led non-profit organisation promoting a corporate culture of accountability and transparency as key drivers of competitiveness and sustainable economic growth across the Gulf Region. The organisation develops programmes and publishes regional research reports and case studies to promote the implementation of higher standards of corporate governance amongst business and student communities across the Gulf Region.

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