African Philanthropy Symposium

January 24th, 2023

On May 12-13, 2008, together with the Global Fund for Community Foundations, TrustAfrica organized a meeting in Naivasha, Kenya, on how philanthropy can become a more effective instrument for development. The gathering drew 20 grantmakers from across the continent—including Ghana, Kenya (Kenya Community Development Foundation), Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal (Youssou N’Dour Foundation), South Africa (Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund), Tanzania (Foundation for Civil Society), and Zimbabwe.

The meeting sought to develop a programmatic framework and philosophy for supporting the development of community foundations and local philanthropic infrastructure in Africa. It was also designed to advance the debate about the nature of African philanthropy, to identify emerging trends in different regions, and to clarify some of the key issues that need to be addressed with regard to linking traditional forms giving with “new” forms of organized philanthropy.

The conversation was lively and reflective and touched on a wide range of subjects. One cluster of issues concerned foundation management and governance; the question of leadership and succession was a recurring theme, for example, as was the importance of both interpersonal and competence-based trust in building sustainable philanthropic institutions. There was much discussion around the importance of articulating a shared value base among a critical mass of African foundations as a way of influencing and encouraging good practice among emerging players. Participants also discussed broader contextual issues, including the potential effects of  “philanthrocapitalism” and Africa’s own new philanthropists on the continent, as well as the need to challenge and revisit the assumptions of “international and expatriate-influenced” models of philanthropy to ensure that they resonate locally.

To further this conversation, TrustAfrica and the Global Fund  prepared a discussion paper and set up a forum for online dialogue about this increasingly significant field.

To view videos from the forum, please visit our Resources page under Videos.


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