International Developoment Lobbying

International development philanthropy tends to have a high impact, and lobbying can be used to magnify that impact. This page attempts to record the players in the game of international development lobbying and advocacy.

The main international development lobbying and advocacy organizations in the US would appear to be (2013 expenses in parenthesis):

  • One ($34m) - Founded by the Bono lead singer of U2. Grass root organization. Focuses on multiple issues.
  • Bread for the World ($13m) - Christian grass roots organization focused on hunger and poverty.
  • RESULTS ($10m) - Grass roots organization focuses on health, microcredit, and education.
  • Friends of the Global Fight ($2m) - Advocates for the Global Fund for AIDS, TB, and Malaria.
  • Population Action International ($5m) - Advocates for reproductive health care.
  • US Global Leadership Coalition ($1m) - Coalition of businesses, NGOs, and powerful individuals focusing on the importance of the international affairs budget to US national security and US business interests.
  • Jubilee USA ($0m) - Jubilee is a network of religious organizations that primarily works for international debt cancellation.

Other organizations such as Save the Children, Rotary International (polio), Oxfam America, CARE, and GAVI Alliance also perform some lobbying, but it isn't their primary mission.

Owing to the high leverage of international health, RESULTS separately fundable health sub-project ACTION, and Friends of the Global Fight, seem worthy of a second look. We have a page evaluating ACTION (and Jubliee USA), but not Friends of the Global Fight.

The Open Philanthropy Project estimates that total spending on public policy around international development is probably slightly less than $100m/year. This seems about right.

The FY 2014 US Foreign Operations budget was $34.0b, but this includes items such as Econmic Support Funds and International Security Assistance which have little to do with helping the poor. Total poverty related programs including USAID, global health, and development assistance, are probably around $20b. The ratio of budget outlays to public policy related expenditures is thus about 200:1, right in line with our previous overall estimate of US budgetary to lobbying related expenditures of 200:1.

The largest part of the $20b spent on poverty related programs is global health, at $8.7b. Funding for global health was only $1.7b in FY 2001. Foreign operations was $16.4b back then, so $34.0b in FY 2014 represents a 4.3% annual increase in non-global health foreign operations spending before inflation, while global health received a 13.4% annual increase, substantially more than the rest of the foreign operations budget. It is hard to say exactly why this increase has occurred, but hopefully lobbying and advocacy played a part.