Africa’s Rich Philanthropic Traditions: A Journey to Inclusivity

October 16, 2023

In Africa, generosity within communities takes various forms and reflects a deep commitment to mutual support and solidarity, and resilience. is evolving alongside changing trends and diverse communities, this generosity also  encompasses contributions from the African diaspora, emerging middle-class donors, institutionalized giving, and high net worth  and corporate givers.

While global philanthropy research often focuses on monetary donations and tends to portray African philanthropy as homogenous , for instance, the overwhelming but simplified focus on the concept of Ubuntu, , it’s important to recognize that many narratives, traditions and practices have not been visibilized or or remain under-documented. These offer profound insights into the values and practices that have lay at the core of African communities for generations. They challenge stereotypes and biases, contributing to a more accurate and respectful portrayal of the continent. Moreover, understanding the connections between African philanthropic traditions and modern forms of philanthropy enables space to explore new configurations of support for both.

At Giving Tuesday, our aim is to complement existing knowledge and collaborate with ongoing data-driven initiatives in Africa through leadership at the Africa hub. Giving Tuesday strives to share best practices, strengthen global knowledge sharing, and support efforts to amplify the impact of generosity, not only in Africa but also in other regions. At TrustAfrica, African agency, narratives and priorities are viewed as central to advancing a just society, and African philanthropy is seen as an important component of enabling this. Both these institutions have an  unwavering commitment to ensure that these diverse reflections of African philanthropy receive comprehensive attention and they have agreed to partner on a pilot project that would .

  • Identify  a broad range of organic African philanthropic traditions and practices.
  • Pay specific attention to documenting  less visible  african giving narratives and practices
  • Gain deeper insights into the nature and role of these in society
  • Organize and showcase these in accessible formats for broader dissemination.

About the World Giving Library Project

The “World Giving Library” (WGL) project seeks to house the most comprehensive web resource on generosity practices, recognising generosity’s full richness and diversity across time and space. In its revised phase, led by Giving Tuesday Data Commons and supported by the National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), this initiative offers one step toward achieving these goals. Currently, the WGL project overall has an existing collection of 200 preliminary articles from across the globe, with 20 undergoing revision by NPT. These articles have been crafted by a mix of scholars, consultants, and contributors from the Giving Tuesday network in line with an established Style Guide.

Central to the revised WGL vision is the idea that those who live the experience are best placed to define and lead it. Accordingly, going forward, Giving Tuesday will seek to partner with experts/institutions from different global regions to conceptualize and lead the substantive content that is housed within this library. This innovative approach aims to reshape global narratives of philanthropy by placing regional voices and histories at the forefront.

A new collaborative pilot

To realize this idea, Giving Tuesday are launching a pilot project in collaboration with Trust Africa. To kick this off, a special framing article will be produced, reflecting on the depth and heterogeneity of African giving practices and offering glimpses of potential upcoming content.

The initial objective in this pilot is to source 20 new articles centered on African perspectives of giving – with a focus on organic giving narratives, practices and traditions. Trust Africa will lead on articulating the overall framing for these articles and working with a variety of contributors on the continent to develop the content that would feed into the World Giving Library. These contributions will also feed into the TrustAfrica African Giving Knowledge Hub as well as the emerging ‘Reimagining Feminist & Pan-African Philanthropies’ knowledge repository led by TrustAfrica and Urgent Action Fund -Africa.

This partnership recognizes that  that no single organization can address the multiple elements of the narratives we are advancing and will adopt a collaborative approach which embraces the diversity of expertise and perspectives across the continent. It will also seek to build on and connect with key African philanthropy support stakeholders on the continent, including organizations like EAPN – East Africa Philanthropy Network, Center for Philanthropy and Social Investment – CAPSI, Africa Philanthropy Network -APN, Epic Africa, TrustAfrica, Independence Philanthropy Association of South Africa -IPASA, Africa Philanthropy Forum – APF, and giving platforms like M-changa, which have already undertaken significant contributions to research and knowledge sharing as well as other diverse voices who bring in lived experience or cultural expertise.

If the initial engagement with the Africa-led pilot project proves successful, Giving Tuesday envisions expanding this transformative initiative to other regions around the globe. Each region, with its unique philanthropic traditions and histories, holds the promise to reshape and enrich the global narrative of giving. The culmination of these regionally-led efforts will be a dynamic and continuously evolving website. By leading with diverse regional voices and histories, the website aims to challenge and reframe traditional power dynamics and narratives in global philanthropy. Its objectives go beyond mere representation: it seeks to democratize knowledge, foster global understanding, and inspire a new generation of givers. In achieving this, we’re not just cataloging global generosity traditions but actively participating in the creation of a more inclusive and equitable world of giving.

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