Africa’s Potential & Philanthropy

Africa’s potential is great and its ability to take charge of its own destiny is foundational to the continent’s future success. 

However, we live in a globalized reality where power still is in the hands of the wealthy and influential. 

In the philanthropic sector, this reality is played out in several ways: 

As Prof. Glenn said, what is good for the west is believed to be best for the rest.

The elite define what charity is on the African continent.

This was the start of my short presentation in today’s conference which asked the question: HOW CAN AFRICA TAKE COMMAND OF ITS DESTINY BY MOBILIZING ITS POTENTIAL?

Unfortunately, the video didn’t record! But you can read it below or listen to this audio.  

Those who control charitable funds are the ones who ultimately decide what kind of charitable programs are offered across Africa, 

African leaders who know what is best for their own communities are often relegated to middle and lower levels of programmatic management rather than the driving forces for social good. 

So what can we do? 

The broken systems of the philanthropic sector must be changed, which will take those in power finally relinquishing it in order to pursue the greater good.

The professionals, the experts, the leaders of foundations, NGOs & and other funding entities must learn to serve communities rather than dictate their progress. 

Leaders in the philanthropic sector must learn to trust the inherent knowledge and experience of communities and their leaders.

For communities that need outside financial resources in order to accomplish their desired social change, funders must learn to give greater autonomy to programs to determine their own priorities, focus areas, and impact measurements, rather than predetermining those factors and then only funding programs that meet their standards. 

Funders must give greater trust and autonomy to African community organizations and stop dictating how change should take place.  

But until such change takes place, Africans must learn to play by the rules set by the elite until they have the power to change the rules themselves.

African community leaders must have the knowledge and skills necessary to be able to competitively access the necessary financial resources to fuel social good

To do this, leaders must build up their capacity and understanding of the global philanthropic sector, especially its expectations of how funding for social change should be utilized.

If Africans can work within to the norms and expectations set by the charitable sector, then they will gain the necessary respect, status and opportunities to speak into changing how things are done.

This growth in knowledge and skills must start with an understanding of how the global charitable sector operates, regardless of its unfortunate disconnect from African norms and practices. 

Once African community leaders of charitable programs have such knowledge and skills, then they can be driving forces in changing the global norms and practices that negatively influence their efforts to lead African social good.

The charitable sector and its supporters have heard too often about the vast challenges of poverty, oppression, injustice and marginalization that African communities face. But people have tuned out these cries because the problems feel too overwhelming. 

African leaders of social good programs must learn to tell a different story – one of potential, opportunity, and growth. 

When the world truly grasps the potential of the African continent, I believe more funds will be funneled into social good programs.

The more funds such programs have, the more positive change we can see.

As such change takes place, this will influence the global philanthropic sector to trust African leadership and wisdom and open themselves up to more equal and balanced power relationships between donor and recipient, funders and programs. 

I believe that some leaders within the global charitable sector are starting to see that this systems-wide change needs to take place, not only for African social good programs, but for all charitable programs across the entire world. 

But this change is going to take time. 

The more we collectively be the ones leading this change, the more the rest of the world will listen and start to follow.

My organization, Cultivate, is a US-based nonprofit organization that is fighting for such change by providing training and coaching to African community leaders, so their social good programs can successfully engage with funders, and be the driving force for this change in the charitable sector. 

We’re always open to working with dedicated, passionate African leaders who are ready to grow their skills and capacity to lead their community programs into this next chapter of social good.

If you’re interested to learn more, please contact me or visit our site