Philanthropy Advisors and Service Providers: building the infrastructure for South African philanthropy

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Gabrielle Ritchie, Director: The Change Room

12th May 2016

South African philanthropy is growing.  About that there is no doubt. In terms of growth, it is not only the encouragement of giving that is growing, but the whole field of philanthropy that is seeing an energetic exercising of its margins.  This is reflected in a range of ways in the South African non-profit funding and organisational context.

Indicators of growth include, amongst others (adapted from Resourcing Philanthropy – see below):

  • A growth in the volume and scope of media coverage about philanthropy and related issues
  • An increase in the number of financial institutions and wealth management companies offering philanthropy-specific advisory and support services
  • Greater numbers of consulting firms, small and large, that provide philanthropy advice to their clients (including tax, legal and strategy advice)
  • A notable growth in the development of public (particularly social media) profiles amongst private donor trusts and foundations in South Africa
  • A growing interest in sound research on the size, scope, practice and nature of South African giving, not only amongst high- and ultra-high net worth individuals and foundations, but also across a range of different kinds of giving, sharing and intra-community support mechanisms
  • The establishment of a Chair in African Philanthropy (at Wits Business School)
  • The availability of greater numbers of information sources on South African philanthropy, the latest and greatest (and I say that with full disclosure here that I am one of three co-authors of this spectacular resource!) being Resourcing Philanthropy at  Check it out, really – films, interviews, thoughts, insights, reports, new perspectives, different lenses on grantmaking in social justice. Fantastic stuff.

Non-profit grantseekers are constantly looking for new ways to approach donors, to build relationships, to attract resources and to identify new audiences of potential donors.  Information about who is giving, how they are giving, what prompts their giving, and on what comms channels one is most likely to find these prospective donors.  Any new research on giving in South Africa, and related issues, provides insights that can be analysed and applied by local grantseekers.

These are then exciting times, and there is a groundswell of interest in and energy around the growth of local giving.  It is well-established globally that for local philanthropic giving to grow, a robust local industry infrastructure is required. See for example a report from the Bertelsmann Stiftung on this topic.  It is clear that for the South African philanthropy environment to continue growing, we need to step up our “infrastructure and support” game quite significantly.

It is absolutely critical for the growth of philanthropy and a support infrastructure in the field, for people to convene to discuss professional practice in the “advice and support” space.  It would be great, for example, to gain an understanding of the current state of the advisory field – what services are currently offered, and whether there are documented standards of professional service locally that are adhered to, such as codes of conduct, or codes of ethical practice.

For a year or so – back in 2013 – Inyathelo: The South African Institute of Advancement ran a Philanthropy Service Providers Network (okay, another disclosure – I was Inyathelo’s Programme Director at the time, and was responsible for the conceptualising and establishment of this network known as the PSPN).  This seems to have died down for reasons unclear. Perhaps those of us in the sector working as service providers and advisors in the philanthropy space will give some serious thought either to resurrecting this network (through Inyathelo or otherwise), or to forming a new forum for professional exchange and learning amongst such providers.

The field, as stated earlier, is growing and includes – amongst other kinds of advisors – the following:

  • The wealth management sector (eg. Citadel, Nedbank, Stonehage, Investec and others)
  • Grantmaking consultants
  • Donor capacity-development organisations
  • Payroll giving initiatives (eg. CAF Southern Africa)
  • Social justice philanthropy advocacy initiatives (eg. Social Justice Initiative and The Other Foundation)
  • Funders who have used/ had experience of such services
  • Monitoring and Evaluation consultants and experts (eg. Impact Consulting)
  • Other capacity development initiatives (eg. Technical Support and Development Platform)
  • Other initiatives such as the Southern Africa Trust, the African Philanthropy Network, the Bertha Centre at University of Cape Town, and GIBS at University of Pretoria for training and discussions.

It is time to get together to discuss, share, learn, build, grow.  South Africa’s philanthropy, social justice and non-profit sector need this, and are relying on it.  It is, after all, these service providers who are already engaged in advising those with potential philanthropy wealth, and who have the best chance of influencing and helping to shape giving in terms of focus, practice, approach, direction and impact.

Because if we aren’t here for the learning, the sharing and the impact, then what is it we are doing again?


One thought on “Philanthropy Advisors and Service Providers: building the infrastructure for South African philanthropy

  1. Pingback: Funding our future with philanthropy | philanthropediaSA

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