On Tuesday, June 11th, various African Philanthropic network organizations including the East Africa Philanthropy Network, African Philanthropy Forum, African Youth Philanthropy Network, the Aga Khan Foundation, African Philanthropy Network, WINGS, SDG Philanthropy Platform and the Philanthropy Leadership Network, hosted a Twitter chat titled: #LiftUpPhilanthropy – how Africa is lifting up philanthropy.
The #LiftUpPhilanthropy campaign and conversation originated from the WINGS Network and the initiative came from the various African networks which are part of the WINGS. The conversations via was vibrant, engaging and brought many participants in one hour bringing 22.56K impressions. Which basically states that there is a huge interest for Africans to connect in the digital space and share lessons, challenges and way forward around how philanthropy works but also that the global community is keen to learn from Africans on how we do Philanthropy. African culture is premised in Philanthropy. In fact, at the annual African Philanthropy Network gathering hosted in 2017 in Mauritius, one of the infographics showed some of the top African countries that are philanthropists and my country Sierra Leone was in the top ten amongst many others. To me this shows that in fact, philanthropy is the mere fabric of African culture, and there is critical urgency to ensuring that it remains.
However, what is urgent in 2019 is how we garner and formalize our philanthropic structures to continue serving the world for a better good. This Twitter conversation was a step in the right direction in thinking of how we can digitalize our best practices whilst also discussing opportunities for growth and collaboration. Here are the key takeaways from the discussion particularly around what strategies do we need to utilize more across the continent for African Philanthropy to thrive, grow and become accessible to all communities:
Best Practice Sharing: During the Twitter conversation there was a general consensus around the need to share best practices The need to generate practical strategies that can leverage on philanthropy collaborations. There was a clear discussion on the fact that there is a lot of learned lessons and strategies that are working within various philanthropic spaces on the African continent that what would be beneficial is to have the opportunity to map out the various strategies that are working well on the continent and curate these to create stronger philanthropy communities.
Research as a Critical Need for African Philanthropy: There was a specific focus on the need to develop data to inform the decisions around how philanthropy is done on the continent. Also using data as a means to inform what is working well and what isn’t working well. And last but not least utilizing data as a means of policy and advocacy around philanthropy. The more data we have the better we can leverage who is giving, what they are giving and how to create more sustainable giving structures.
Inclusiveness and Language: It is critical that we ensure that we are spreading the messages that philanthropy is for everyone and isn’t for a specific subset of society. This came across in various tweets. In a conversation later on that week, @CiviSourceAfrica shared that “ We should democratize the practice of philanthropy and come to the understanding that we are all givers and have been given. It is not the preserve of those with billions”. It was also emphasized that we have to bring philanthropy to the grassroots level. In fact, I would argue that philanthropy has always been at the grassroots and it is critical for the conversations to begin there.
Collaboration and Partnerships: A case was made for the importance of ensuring we are collaborating across sectors, regions and countries to ensure we are implemented streamlines strategies and having more focused conversations that can ultimately benefit communities. This also lends itself to the necessity of mentorship of the next generation of philanthropists. It is important for older organizations to invest their time, expertise, into cultivating younger African youth philanthropy networks in order for African Philanthropy to remain alive. Collaborations and partnerships can lead to philanthropy being more accessible to everyone in society as well as more inclusive.
This Twitter conversation was hosted by African Philanthropy Networks who are members of the WINGS network including:
@AYPconference @PhilSDGs @APForg @wings_info @InfoAPN @EAPhilanthropy @yetuorg and @akf_ea