Philanthropy Lessons by African Philanthropy Forum

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In Africa where much of philanthropic giving is still informal or charitable, making this shift to more strategic of long-term giving is a challenge. Due to weak and, in some cases, non-existing regulation and limited expertise, the sector is not yet well defined and practices are still evolving. However, applying your ideas, values, and experiences to establish a process from the beginning will help you create lasting and sustainable impact.

Who should I support?

Now that you have some idea of the problems you are going to solve, the next step is to think about how the actual work will get done and by whom. Are you creating an operating foundation, purely grant making, or a mix of both? Are you donating to new or existing organizations? Essentially, the question here is - who will you support?

In Africa, most philanthropists tend to set up operating foundations. There are organizations that they create, fund, and execute their own programs. Unfortunately, the growing numbers of operating foundations have produced multiple organizations with overlapping focus areas resulting in increased competition for funding, and donor fatigue.

The alternative to an operating foundation is to set up a grant-making foundation. There are only a few grant-making foundations in Africa and this model is mostly adopted by international development agencies seeking to achieve scalable impact across different development sectors.

Here are some questions to help you brainstorm through this process of deciding whom to support:

What selection criteria will I use?

Most established organizations develop criteria they use to scan against potential grantees and partners. To help you get started on developing your own, reflect on the following questions:
- Does the organization share similar values or goals?
- Does the leadership have a good reputation?
- What is their track record for success?
- Do they have the required capacity and expertise?
- Are they good financial stewards?

For how long should I support my grantees?


Most philanthropists tend to give one-off donations while others give longer-term support. However, this decision should be based on what programs or initiatives you are supporting. For example, reducing obesity in children will take a lot longer to solve than providing education access to orphans and vulnerable children. Developing realistic funding timelines early on will help set the appropriate expectations for your grantees and partners.

About The Author:

African Philanthropy Forum

The African Philanthropy Forum (APF) is a strong and vibrant community of givers who through their strategic investments, partnerships, and influence, foster inclusive and sustainable development on the African Continent. APF envision a strong and dynamic home grown philanthropic community on the African Continent, playing a catalytic role in Africa’s achievement of inclusive and sustainable development.
For more information about philanthropic activities in Africa visit www.africanpf.org .

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