Western Union Foundation: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: The Western Union Foundation supports economic development, education, and financial inclusion. It provides aid and in-kind donations for disaster relief.

IP TAKE: The Western Union Foundation does not support many large global development projects, but when it does, support is scalable. In other words, it spreads grant money out widely, making it a global development funder on which to keep an eye. 

PROFILE: Western Union, the leading money transfer company, has been in existence since 1851. Based in Colorado, the payment services provider now has outposts in countries around the world. The company's charitable arm, the Western Union Foundation, is similarly global in scope. The foundation dedicates itself to "creating a better world, where the ability to realize dreams through economic opportunity is not just a privilege for the few but a right for all." It does so through programs that support projects addressing economic opportunity, disaster relief, education, and special topics

Nationally, Western Union supports education and improving financial literacy. Internationally, the foundation generally fosters economic empowerment in developing countries. It currently focuses its international giving on about 25 countries and the European Union.

For Western Union, Economic empowerment is a broad-ranging category that the foundation interprets in various ways. In the past, the foundation has supported financial literacy programs, small business development, and workforce training in this area of grantmaking. 

Another path to economic empowerment, believes Western Union, is through education. In 2012, the foundation launched its signature education program, Education for Better, in order to improve secondary education and vocational programs across more than 50 countries. According to foundation president Patrick Gaston, education “plays a powerful role in changing peoples’ lives for the better,” and increased access to education leads to “stronger, more resilient communities and economies worldwide.”  

However, Western Union Foundation's economic security focused giving to disaster relief is an exception. It partners NGOs abroad with the Western Union crisis management team to deploy resources quickly when communities are devastated by earthquakes, floods, and tsunami. The foundation funds emergency response and rebuilding efforts in the wake of natural disasters and also offers in-kind support to NGOs working in disaster-stricken regions. Once a disaster occurs, Western Union is typically able to get on scene and begin responding within 48 hours.

Western Union's global development grantees are often smaller entities based in the country where they conduct operations. For the most part, Western Union grants are about $10,000 each, but they can range up to around $250,000.

The foundation does not accept unsolicited grant proposals, but it does welcome contact from parties whose vision and goals align with its mission and who have a good project that needs funding. Grantees can receive support for multi-year projects.

PEOPLE:

  • Patrick Gaston, President
  • Amy Fischer, Director
  • Carin Poland, Senior Program Manager
  • Joey Ham, Senior Program Manager, Global Partnerships

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