African philanthropic institutions are demonstrating how donors can more effectively foster independent action and strengthen movements for change. This different approach may hold the key to durable development on the continent.
Although many donors recognize that top-down approaches and solutions that are not rooted in context are less likely to succeed, few manage to include partners and beneficiaries in decision making in very meaningful ways. One of the exceptions is TrustAfrica, an independent foundation based in Africa and led by Africans. It was established in 2006 to practice a kind of philanthropy that not only benefits Africans but actively supports their agency.
It is also the subject of a new book, Claiming Agency: Reflecting on TrustAfrica’s First Decade. As the book’s editors, we sought to understand what this kind of African philanthropy looks like in practice and what difference it has made. In our analysis, five elements stand out:
1. It is geographically rooted