Photo Credit: IPASA - Supplied

The Annual Review of South African Philanthropy has been released to help organisations understand what the challenges are within the philanthropic space.


South Africa (23 November 2022) – To tackle the unprecedented challenges of this decade, we need to remember the roots of philanthropy. At the heart of the field is love for humankind, says Thabang Skwambane, group CEO of Nahana Communications Group, and well-known local philanthropist. Skwambane is a contributor to the much-anticipated fourth edition of the Annual Review of South African Philanthropy, which was recently launched on 8 November by the Independent Philanthropy Association South Africa (IPASA), at their 2022 Annual Philanthropy Symposium.

“The depth of your passion for the work that we do is in equal measure to the love you have for humankind,” says Skwambane. “Success is determined by our recipients, or partners. Everything we do must result in some benefit to [those] we serve.”

With South Africa reeling from the long-term effects of the pandemic, loadshedding, high unemployment rates and persistent inequality, not to mention the climate crisis, the way forward calls for a combination of reflection, communication, innovation – and, critically, trust.

This is the crux of the 2022 IPASA Annual Review of South African Philanthropy, which is freely available to download from the IPASA website. The publication shines a light on the type, scope, successes and challenges of the work being done by some of the hundreds of independent philanthropic organisations in South Africa, as well as the broader continent.

IPASA comprises 50 members, including some of South Africa’s most well-established foundations – such as the Ackerman Family Foundation, Allan and Gill Gray Philanthropies, Oppenheimer Generations Foundation, Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, Raith Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

A bold, collaborative approach

“The challenges facing our country are myriad and multi-layered,” says IPASA executive director, Louise Driver. “A bold, collaborative approach is required to develop and implement effective solutions. The philanthropy sector is perfectly positioned to take the proactive and transformative action needed.”

“The entire [philanthropic] process is as important as the outcome of our programmes – how we show up determines how we are received and perceived,” adds Skwambane. “Communication is critical in every aspect – for understanding; for stakeholders and stakeholder management; for community building; and for behaviour change.”

To this, he brings in consistency, belief and trust – in partners, communities and stakeholders – as essential elements for ensuring decisions are aligned with a foundation or individual’s philanthropic purpose.

Change for the better

“There has been strong recognition that the world has changed fundamentally in recent years, and that philanthropy needs to adapt and reinvent itself in order to meet the challenges of these new times,” says Driver. “This has allowed for a real shift in mindsets and attitudes, and an openness to new ways of working, which is transforming the sector for the better.”

A keyway in which this is happening is through the rise of trust-based philanthropy: though not a new concept, it is one that has gained traction over the past few years.

“During the height of Covid-19, funders had to rely heavily on the organisations they were supporting, to provide the services that were so desperately needed in the crisis,” explains Driver. “It became clear just how effective these organisations working on the ground were, which led to an enhanced sense of trust and respect.” She says that while trust-based philanthropy can be complex to follow – trust needs to be built on both an individual and organisational level – it allows for “strong and long-lasting equitable partnerships, which are essential for tackling systemic change in South Africa”.

Trust is one key theme in the IPASA Annual Review of South African Philanthropy; reflection, learning and impact are others.

“The case studies, stories and perspectives shared here are a window into the inner workings, and hard work, of philanthropic foundations across the country,” says Shelagh Gastrow, Annual Review editor. “It’s a chance to better understand the lessons learned through funding in practice and where philanthropy is going, in fields ranging from basic and higher education to community development, food security, healthcare, job creation, indigenous people’s rights, climate change and more.”

Climate action for inclusive development

Climate change, a special focus area of IPASA, is once again given due prominence in the Annual Review, recognising its profound influence on all spheres of development. The sense of urgency with which it needs to be addressed is palpable; so, too, is the sentiment of hope that comes with action. A call is made for the local philanthropic community to align its thinking to the broader developmental agenda by viewing climate change responses not simply as an environmental issue, but as an enabler of inclusive development.

“Whether you work in education, health or social justice, climate change must be central to philanthropy’s long-term planning, operations and the management of its endowments and investments,” says Alan Wallis, head of strategy at the African Climate Foundation, and a contributor to the Annual Review. “If we collectively focus on the climate crisis now, and start making long-term plans for adaptation and resilience, factoring climate risk into all of our decisions, a climate-positive and resilient South Africa is possible.”

“All in all, the Annual Review is a valuable resource for anyone looking to make a difference,” says Gastrow. “It is our hope that it will serve as a source of inspiration for philanthropic giving in the years ahead.”

Source a free copy of the Annual Review directly from the IPASA website, or by contacting IPASA directly.

Sources: IPASA – Supplied
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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