Contrary of the political sphere and the private

Contrary to
popular belief, NGOs aren’t completely independent of the political sphere and
the private sector. The separation between the public and private sphere is
blurred, in particular when NGOs are funded and supported by private
foundations9. The influence of power and authority from donors pose
a challenge to authenticity. NGOs therefore are accountable to their funders
and not to the people they claim to assist. The flow of capital comes with
strings attached which manifests in the agendas being dictated, simmering
confrontation into negotiation, depoliticizing resistance and employing
movements to appease funders10. The Tides Foundation claims to guide
corporate foundations to collaborate with NGOs and coalitions in the hopes for
social justice. However, the Tides Foundation simply sets the stage for
corporations to control and direct NGOs to fulfill their own agendas. The Tides
Foundation and its “philanthropy” partners have played a heavy hand in the
changing the discourse amongst NGOs regarding the campaign against the Keystone
XL pipeline.

 

Who
funds Tides Foundation and why?

            A
major financer of the Tides Foundation is the Novo Foundation, founded by
Warren Buffett. NoVo’s philanthropic initiatives include education, promoting
local economies and helping Indigenous populations17. As the
exclusive donor to the NoVo Foundation, Warren Buffett granted $26 million to
the Tides Foundation from 2003 to 201111. Similarly, the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation is philanthropist initiative by one of the richest
people in the world, that also funnel money into Tides15.

The Tides Foundation focuses on
grant-making and entices NGO’s to take shelter under them with incentives such
as coveted benefits and charitable tax-exempt status. They have been reported
to obscure millions of tax-exempt dollars and since they act as the middle man
between donors and users, it’s very difficult to recognize where the funds are
being allocated. Their “donor-advising model” allows for donors to funnel money
for a cause of their interest, and if no such organization exists, the Tides
Foundation will essentially create groups to fulfill their needs15.

The richest symbols of capitalism have donated money to the Tides Foundation
under the false guise of philanthropism. These include the NoVo Foundation,
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller foundation and Ford foundation
to just name a few. Although philanthropic foundations as such claim stand for
apolitical and selfless advocacy to “get things done”, the wealth and power
exuberated through philanthrocapitalism has negatively affected the non-profit
sector. By “donating” millions, these philanthrocapitalist enterprises fund causes
that financially benefit them instead of prioritizing the interests of whom
they claim to help16.

When the
richest and most powerful people in the world fuel the Tides Foundation,
there’s little room for doubt on the strings that are attached with “donations”.

Key players that would benefit from the stopping of the Keystone XL pipeline
have their hands deeper in the campaign against pipeline than they lead on.