More than 600 delegates from 61 countries attended the 8th international conference of the International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR), held July 9–12, 2008, in Barcelona. TrustAfrica was on hand to host a special workshop on the State of Philanthropy in Africa. Roughly a dozen contributors to our forthcoming publication on the sector discussed the manuscript and shared their research findings with a wide set of experts attending the biennial conference.
The session, conceived as a professional methodological workshop, was organized as part of a larger project to cultivate and nurture interest in philanthropy both from a theoretical perspective and from a practitioner’s viewpoint. It also sought to introduce an African presence and perspectives at the global level on matters of philanthropy. Further, the aim was to bring together researchers from Africa and expose them to dominant frameworks in the study of philanthropy.
The following thematic areas were discussed at the workshop:
- Theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of Philanthropy in Africa
- Philanthropy and religion in Africa
- Philanthropy and culture in Africa
- Institutional forms of philanthropy in Africa, with a particular focus on North, South and West Africa
- Philanthropy and development in Africa, with a particular lens on the relationship between the state and organized philanthropy
- Philanthropy and the Diaspora; with a particular focus on Zimbabweans, Somalis, etc.
- Civil society legislation in many African countries
The workshop took advantage of the presence of international scholars and practitioners. For example, two of the guest speakers at the workshop were Professor Kathleen McCarthy from the Center for Philanthropy at the City University of New York and Dr. Gerry Salole from the European Foundation Centre. Prof. McCarthy presented on methodological challenges facing the study of philanthropy globally, while Dr. Salole looked at the global dimensions of philanthropy and implications for African philanthropy.
In addition to presentations, this meeting presented a moment in which researchers and scholars from across the continent and beyond could form a network of actors in philanthropy. Particularly interesting was the desire by scholars from Central and West Africa for information on philanthropy. There is a big gap in terms of the knowledge base on philanthropy between Central and West, and the other parts of the continent. The workshop served as a platform for partnerships and collaborations between researchers and actors from the different regions. Together with other institutions in Africa, TrustAfrica will follow this up by organizing an African ISTR regional meeting in 2009.
Read ISTR’s report on the workshop, from which the above description is taken in our Publications database.