NGOs in Africa are underfunded by both African and non-African benefactors, according to a new analysis from the African Philanthropy Forum and The Bridgespan Group. This is in comparison to organizations that are headquartered outside of the continent.
The study, which delves into the factors that contribute to funding disparities for African nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), discovered that African funders directed only 9% of large gifts to NGOs based on the continent between 2010 and 2019, while non-African funders provided only 14% of large gifts to these organizations. Moreover, according to the research, despite African donors’ “huge” reaction to the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020, those figures remained practically constant.
Devex spoke with Jan Schwier, one of the report’s authors and a representative from Bridgespan, who said that the report’s findings were consistent: “very little… ended up with African-led NGOs.” He went on to say that this was true regardless of the year or situation under consideration.
According to the report, African donors put more money toward their private operational foundations than local nongovernmental organizations. They directed 33% of their major gifts to operate foundations, including organizations such as the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in Africa and the Tony Elumelu Foundation in the United States.
Operational foundations are primarily responsible for overseeing their philanthropic activities rather than making donations to other organizations. According to the report, this structure enables philanthropists to watch how their money is being spent closely. According to the report, its use frequently reflects “a belief in the abilities and business backgrounds of the wealthy funders behind the operating foundation” rather than a lack of faith in African nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). According to the report, some of those questioned stated that there is a “pervasive lack of faith in African NGOs” among African funders, according to the report’s authors.
According to Mosun Layode, executive director of the African Philanthropy Forum, which represents African philanthropists and social investors, one goal of the report is to demonstrate to African philanthropists that local NGOs have more knowledge of and credibility with the communities they want to reach and may therefore be better positioned to help those populations. The report was released on Tuesday. Localization advocates have spent years arguing much the same point as the opposition.
In Layode’s opinion, the operating foundations may not have as much influence as they could. Those communities will not provide them with as much leverage as they would like. It will take time for them to establish the credibility, access, and connections that the nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) already have.”
According to the study’s findings, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) across the continent have been obliged to seek funding from sources other than African philanthropies. Non-African financiers, on the other hand, have exhibited a similar reluctance to support these organizations. According to the research, the vast bulk of their substantial gifts have gone to international organizations with headquarters outside of the continent rather than within it. In addition, international organizations may be less likely than domestic organizations to have representatives from local communities in their leadership ranks.
Furthermore, when non-African financiers do contribute, they significantly impact the way African nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operate, according to Schwier. However, long-term, he questioned whether or not this was beneficial to the sector in general.
“Doesn’t there remain an opportunity for effect if we can’t persuade more African funders to contribute their knowledge, ideas, and connections to what’s vital for the continent by also more actively backing NGOs?” he questioned.
According to the research, when African nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) receive donations, they are frequently tiny, short-term, and restricted. According to Layode, only a small number of funders supply African NGOs with multi-year donations that provide greater stability.
According to the report, a lack of targeted strategies within philanthropies to identify such groups and the use of exclusionary “Western-centric” grant-making criteria that favor larger organizations over community-based organizations are among the other obstacles that African nonprofits face in receiving philanthropic funding.
The findings come at a time when wealth accumulation and private charitable giving have both grown. According to the authors, in Africa. The authors write that there are more options for regional donors to finance nonprofit organizations, and there is an increased need for a strong ecosystem to make it easy for NGOs to tap into regional funding flows.
According to the authors, the rise in prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement and greater attention to racial justice worldwide have prompted a “reckoning in the international philanthropic sector,” which has underlined the need for more locally-led solutions. In addition, these groups asserted that the pandemic’s consequences, as well as the injustices it uncovered, demonstrated the need for community-based organizations across and within countries.
The question is if there is any influence left on the table if we are unable to convince more African funders to contribute… their connection to what’s vital for the continent by also more strongly supporting NGOs.”
Report co-authored by Jan Schwier, “Disparities in Funding for African NGOs” report co-author
According to Maddie Holland, a co-author from Bridgespan, “When I think about the utility of this report, I hope it will be able to facilitate some experience-sharing, either through the report itself or in follow-up conversations.”
The report is the second time that Bridgespan and the African Philanthropy Forum have worked together. The Bridgespan Group, based in the United States, opened its first African office in Johannesburg in 2019 to promote African-led development.
It was announced by the two organizations that they had joined forces to explore African philanthropy in 2020 with the purpose of “assisting both African and foreign philanthropic contributors in identifying methods to expand funding for African organizations and leaders.” This most recent analysis expands on previously released information from the cooperation, which monitored large-scale donations by African donors until 2020.