African Philanthropy Discussion Forum, Navaisha, Kenya

A starting point for the Global Fund for Community Foundation’s recent philanthropy convening in Africa was thedrawing of a distinction between African philanthropy as philanthropy of Africa, and as philanthropy for Africa. In the same way, an array of researchers and practitioners has argued that there is a critical distinction, particularly in Africa, between ‘philanthropy of community’ and ‘philanthropy for community’.1 Characteristics of the former are seen to include variations on self-help or mutual aid mechanisms, where notions of reciprocity or even obligation arising out of belonging are far more deeply rooted than representing merely survival or coping strategies in times of hardship. Studies of philanthropy in East, Southern and North Africa2 highlight a wide range of social institutions and associations including home town associations, burial societies, savings clubs, tribal networks and so on all of which place ‘giving’ or ‘helping’ at the heart of their operations. Philanthropy for community might include not only the external charity organizations, but also family, corporate and personal foundations now expanding rapidly in Africa. A more contested example of philanthropy ‘for’ community is the community foundation.

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