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African Philanthropy

Philanthropy is a broad concept that can be defined in different ways. It can be defined as an act of performing charitable or benevolent actions that is aimed at improving or adding value to lives of people or situations. Over time, this concept has evolved into meaning the act of giving by individuals or organizations for public good. The act of philanthropy also refers to strategic giving (grantmaking) by foundations and non-profit organizations. Key elements of the definition can be (1) the individual or collective effort or inclination to increase the well-being of a person, a group of people or humankind (2) the sense of solidarity and sharing with people in need (3) an activity or institution intended to promote human welfare.

Philanthropy goes beyond charity and altruism as, not only does it works for the dignity and fulfillment of all people but also it seeks to root out the causes of poverty, suffering and inequality. Philanthropy inspires and promotes individual growth and community welfare.

While Philanthropy is not the same as charity; Philanthropy is an investment in individuals or organizations who promote progressive systemic change that helps transform society for the better, while charity is more about meeting immediate physical needs.

In Africa, the act of philanthropy is widely practiced mainly as a means of alleviating some of the regions development challenges. Although colonialism is dead, continued reliance on money from abroad consistently weakens the continents’ ability to set their own priorities and policies for development.

One of the biggest challenges also affecting the act of philanthropy in Africa is the lack of a clear understanding of the concept itself. There is a clear distinction between African Philanthropy and philanthropy practiced in other parts of the world. In Africa, specifically, philanthropy is shaped by community and social values. The African type of philanthropy is not tied to times of boom or prosperity. It is daily. In hard times, people will probably give less in other societies, for example. In Africa, hard times are also moments of sharing and togetherness. Similarly, philanthropy is not generally supported by formal foundations on some parts of the continent, but by individuals, groups and communities.

The act of giving in Africa is also marred by a lack of clearly defined purpose and proper management of the received funds. While many international philanthropic acts sometimes target projects or initiatives that suite their own agendas; corruption and poor management of these funds also defeats the noble purpose.

In view of these issues; there is therefore a great need to address philanthropy as it is practiced daily in Africa by Africans. Our role at Influence Africa is to strategically cultivate a healthy act of giving on the continent and to help align it to solving Africa’s development challenges towards achieving the continents millennium development goals. Towards achieving this, our key strategy focuses on:

  • developing research and knowledge materials to create an understanding of African philanthropy;
  • producing video materials that address key issues around philanthropy in Africa;
  • facilitating multi-stakeholder engagements with civil society organizations, public and private sector, African philanthropic institutions and key experts;
  • creating online collaborative platforms for civil engagement on key issues around African Philanthropy; and
  • supporting donors and philanthropists towards contributing to the growth and development of the continent.


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