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Growth in South African Philanthropy

The growth in the field of philanthropy, both locally and across the continent, is reflected in increasing media coverage, more financial institutions offering philanthropy-focused services, increased uptake in the number of small and large consulting firms providing philanthropy advice, and the number of private Trusts developing a more public profile (particularly on social media platforms).

A number of research reports also reflect this growth such as the BoE Private Clients and Nedbank Private Wealth Giving Reports, and the CAF Southern Africa report (2015), amongst others.

In the 2013 Nedbank Private Wealth Giving Report, CEO of the Other Foundation Neville Gabriel argues that there is evidence of:

  • More structured forms of strategic giving by wealthy individuals across Africa, reflected in the establishment of independent entities such as Trusts and Foundations
  • Established channels for collective giving within communities, such as community Foundations
  • A growing recognition of community-based practices of social solidarity as a kind of philanthropy including burial societies and stokvels64
  • The emergence of a number of African associations of philanthropists, grantmakers, donor entities and other kinds of social investors, including the African Philanthropy Network, South Africa Community Foundation Association (SACOFA), the Independent Philanthropy Association of South Africa, amongst others65

In addition, according to the Trialogue CSI Handbook (2014), 61% of NPOs reported that giving by individuals (whether through institutionalised giving or individual donations) had increased. This percentage is greater than the increases in corporate or self-generated funding reported by local NPOs.

It remains to be determined, through longitudinal studies, how this growth is reflected in philanthropic spend and in increased giving to NPOs. Despite the drop in international and government funding over past years it is encouraging to note that, as borne out in a national survey, South Africans are a nation of givers.

video-iconTalking Philanthropy


Talking Future: Growing Democracy and Philanthropy in South Africa

Now is the time where people finally are able to see the value of a democracy, the value of preserving a democracy, and the value of actually paying for it for themselves … We can’t rely indefinitely on international donors and philanthropists to fund the very safeguards of democracy that we would like to enjoy.*

Fatima Hassan, Executive Director, Open Society Foundation for South Africa

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Public profile

Public discussion and debate on philanthropy has gained greater media interest over time and is now featured more regularly in print, online and broadcast media. Some examples include:

Differences between philanthropy and charity

Reasons people give

New research and data on local philanthropy

Stories of individual giving and its impacts

Challenges in grantmaker-grantseeker relationships

Growing funding for social justice and human rights

The politics of funding

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Support services

The philanthropy advisory and support services field is another area where growth can be determined. In 2006 there was only one banking institution in South Africa with an active, profiled, publicised and well-functioning Philanthropy Office (BoE Private Clients). In the last decade, numerous other banks and wealth management institutions66 have climbed on board the philanthropy platform, and are offering a range of investment, entity set-up, tax and grantmaking advisory and support services to those with surplus wealth who are considering or are already involved in philanthropic giving.

Along with banking services and wealth management companies, a range of other service providers have also started to shape and focus their services in relation to philanthropic giving and the institutionalisation of philanthropy through the establishment of private Trusts and Foundations. These service providers include lawyers, tax advisors, strategy consultants, and grantmaking specialists, amongst others.

In addition, some private Foundations67 are taking their potential for impact more seriously and are engaging outcomes monitoring and impact evaluation specialists to assist in determining the efficacy and impact of a particular grantmaking strategy. The need for skills and expertise in the field of private philanthropy and Foundation or Trust grantmaking practices is growing, and Foundations have begun to share their learnings and challenges through affinity groups and philanthropy forums.68

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Knowledge building

Central to the recent growth in the philanthropy environment is the development and accessibility of knowledge and information about and for philanthropists. In the early 2000’s most philanthropy and grantmaking knowledge production was academic and mostly published in university-based research reports.69 More recent efforts to ensure accessible knowledge-sharing has seen publications by donor organisations, non-profits, and financial services institutions in addition to ongoing academic projects.

These include, amongst other materials:

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Skills development

The need for skilled philanthropy-focused practitioners in the fields of taxation, accounting, strategy, communications, and impact measurement, is on the increase. There have been efforts to address skills enhancement through, for example, the establishment of university-accredited non-profit management courses, but many of these focused on grantseeking, fundraising and non-profit management. In many cases these have also been either cancelled or provided on an ad hoc basis.

Courses currently on offer include:

Currently, there are no university-accredited courses designed to support grantmaking. The University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business course in CSI funding management was terminated in 2011. In addition, the University of the Witwatersrand’s Business School, in partnership with the Southern Africa Trust, is in the process of establishing a Chair in Philanthropy, the first in South Africa.

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