Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all charitable giving of its founder Michael R. Bloomberg, who made his fortune through Bloomberg L.P., a private software and media corporation, and was a three-term mayor of New York City. The organization also raises money and receives in-kind donations from others, notably the employees of Bloomberg L.P. The philanthropy focuses on five areas: environment, public health, the arts, education, and government innovation. A major goal is ensuring “better, longer lives for the greatest number of people.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies works in more than 400 cities in over 130 countries around the world. According to the Foundation Center, Bloomberg Philanthropies is the twelfth largest foundation in the United States, and the businessman and former mayor has pledged to donate the majority of his wealth, currently estimated at $27 billion, to charity.
In the CIMA survey, each donor was asked to rate from high to low in terms of priority the types of media interventions it supports.
In February 2014 in Johannesburg, Bloomberg announced the launch of Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA), a $10 million, three-year pan-African program to build media capacity through training programs, convening media leaders, and improving access to information by strengthening business and economic news coverage. This initiative is also financially supported by the Ford Foundation. The program’s goal is to advance transparency, accountability, and governance by providing greater access to reliable data on the continent, organizing pan-African forums on worldwide media best practices, and supporting research on media innovations.
“Reliable data and financial analysis bring transparency to markets and promote sound economic development–and they can help keep Africa growing and creating opportunity,” the organization published in a press release when announcing the program. “The Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa will foster collaboration, support professional growth, and nurture the leaders who are contributing to the continent’s very bright future.”
In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies contributed $510 million to projects in the US and around the globe. Support of international media development has been a small part of the philanthropy’s charitable efforts. Bloomberg Philanthropies has devoted $10 million to the three-year BMIA, launched in 2014. BMIA’s initial focus was on Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. In 2015, 260 journalists, and business, government, and civil society professionals in these countries completed a 19-day program over six months in six institutions featuring modules on public policy, financial journalism, financial markets, accounting, and finance. The program took place in Kenya with the University of Nairobi’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications and Strathmore Business School; in Nigeria with the University of Lagos’ Department of Mass Communications and the Pan Atlantic University’s Lagos Business School; and in South Africa with the Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies and the University of Pretoria Gordon Institute of Business Science. In 2017, an executive training curriculum will be added, and by 2018 the executive training program is expected to go online.
Bloomberg Philanthropies Total Charitable Spending in 2015
Percent of Spending on Media Development in 2015
The first Bloomberg Africa Business Media Innovators Forum drew one hundred media executives and innovators from 10 African countries, the UK, and the US to Johannesburg in November 2015 for the three-day event. The participants explored the role business and financial journalism play in contributing to inclusive and sustainable economic growth in Africa and looked at new strategies to improve the future of media success.
Out of this, BMIA announced the launch of a million-dollar fund for local media to give grants over the ensuing three years to small and mid-sized NGOs, community-based organizations, and digital media entrepreneurs in the areas of social justice, media innovation, business journalism, and data to support transparency, accountability, and good governance across the continent.
The goal, a press release announcing the program stated, is to “enhance citizen access to localized data and statistical information, drive the development of new technology to deliver new media content, and improve citizens’ understanding of business and finance principles to empower them to support policies and practices that accelerate economic and human development in Africa.”
The project focuses on provincial, local, and community media with rural and lower income audiences. The grants are to act as a catalyst to give communities access to financial information, data and technology, and a voice in economic and human development, and to foster democratic practices.