Personal Connection Informs African Philanthropy, Study Finds

Personal Connection Informs African Philanthropy, Study Finds

Motivated to address challenges they have experienced in their own lives or see in their communities, wealthy Africans tend to give to causes to which they have a personal connection, a report from UBS and TrustAfrica finds.

Based on a survey of and interviews with nearly a hundred wealthy Africans and philanthropic experts, with a focus on Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, the report, Africa's Wealthy Give Back (98 pages, PDF), found that philanthropy is an inherent characteristic of African life; that informal giving plays a bigger role than formal giving; and that giving is embedded in local beliefs, communities, and cultural practices. Issue areas that received the most funding in the past twelve months were education (22 percent) and health (11 percent) — with a focus on improved service provision rather than systemic reform — followed by poverty alleviation, children, entrepreneurship, and religion.

The study also found that wealthy Africans are personally involved in their philanthropic activities — whether in the selection of projects, the management of their foundations, and/or through their involvement on boards — though they tend to prefer a degree of anonymity in their giving, which makes sharing best practices and lessons learned more difficult. The report points to the need for wealthy Africans to move toward a more strategic style of philanthropy, new regulations to encourage increased giving, and the adoption of impact investing and other new approaches across the continent.

"Supporting the requisite infrastructural base and systems for local philanthropy is a powerful way of achieving [the] goal" of using wealth to create positive social impact, said Tendai Murisa, executive director of TrustAfrica. "For there is no doubt that the best way to help people is to help them strengthen their own systems for helping themselves when they are in need."