Turkey is very famous for its endowment structure, it is considered to be one of the best endowment models in the Islamic world. Like the majority of the Middle Eastern countries, Islam in Turkey represents the majority. As we learned in other blog posts before, the religion of Islam influences charitable giving and institutionalized it through Zakat funds and other religious governmental entities in many countries around the world.
In Turkey, the concept of an endowment, which in the Islamic perception is a sustainable charity, goes back to the glory days of the Ottoman empire. In fact, I was able to trace back an endowment structure to the second Bey of Ottoman empire, Orhan Gazi in the year of 1360. There are many examples of this great method of sustainable charitable and philanthropic giving in the Ottoman empire over its 600 years of ruling major countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa.
A Rising Player in the Humanitarian Sector
According to the humanitarian aid report by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkey in 2017, Turkey has increased its foreign aid forty-two times in the last ten years through official institutions and civilian humanitarian organizations.
To give you an idea about the positive impact and the huge shift of Turkey’s foreign aid, we should look at the development of its foreign aid in recent years. The foreign aid of Turkey was 707 million dollars in 2009, it rose to 967 million dollars in 2010. In 2012, this figure rose to $ 2.53 billion dollars. In 2015, the US made the most humanitarian aid support of 6.4 billion dollars. Accordingly, Turkey has become the second country with the highest humanitarian aid in the world after the United States with 3.2 billion dollars.
What could interest Turkish Donors?
While the main Turkish institutional donors, such as Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency and The Disaster and Emergency Management, will have a long-term strategy to fund and support certain sectors and regions. Most of the time they align their priorities and funding criteria with the UN SDGS. The Turkish individual donors have interesting categories that interest them, I would say this shows the sophistication and advanced level of awareness of those individuals. According to the Third Sector Foundation’s report in 2016, a number of Turkish individual donors participated in a survey to highlight their main interest when they give to a charity, below are the ranking:
- HELPING THE DISABLED 45%
- REFORESTATION, PROTECTION OF ENVIRONMENT 44%
- PREVENTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS 35%
- POVERTY REDUCTION 34%
- IMPROVING HEALTH SERVICES 32%
- IMPROVING EDUCATIONAL SERVICES 32%
- FIGHTING DISCRIMINATION 32%
- REDUCTION OF UNEMPLOYMENT 23%
It has become quite easy and straightforward to register a new foundation in Turkey, this makes Turkey a hub of private foundations in the region with over 1,305 foundations registered in Turkey up to 2015!
One of the main challenges for international organizations seeking to enter the fundraising market in Turkey is the language barrier. However, this challenge can be overcome by working with local experienced teams.
There are around 27 international organizations that registered in the last 5 years in Turkey as branches of foreign NGOs. While I believe this number is low, as most of them register as a local foundation, this number can still be seen as an indicator of the importance of the charity fundraising market in Turkey.
Finally, I would like to highlight that Turkey is a founding member and major shareholder of the Islamic Development Bank and its subsidiaries, which is considered to be the largest development institution in the Islamic world.