The Synergos Institute pulled together a formidable research team of committed and knowledgeable practitioners to research and write the Foundation Building Sourcebook. Between the authors, the advisory committee and others who contributed by sharing their experiences, there is a diverse range of knowledge and experience, which has been brilliantly aggregated into a goldmine of invaluable insights into grantmaking foundations in the developing world.
The Sourcebook brings together many years of hands-on experience of establishing and working with indigenous grantmaking foundations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This is a guided tour into a newly chartered terrain of real-life experiences of establishing foundations in countries where resources, especially financial resources, are not in abundance, as is the case in the North.
The Sourcebook couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. In Africa, for instance, a significant decline in foreign funding over the last decade has plunged local non-profits into an ever-deepening financial crisis. This crisis comes at a time when the non-profit sector in the region, which has over the years developed a heavy dependence on funds from foreign agencies, is confronted with a panoply of huge challenges – deepening poverty, natural disasters, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, malaria, human rights abuses, the decay of traditional value systems that kept social support systems in place, environmental degradation, political instability, social unrest and open conflicts, to mention but a few. There is a general consensus in the developing world that lasting solutions to these challenges must be sought and found locally.
Case studies included in the book to illustrate five key elements of foundation development – forming, governing, setting programme priorities, mobilizing resources and communicating messages to various constituencies – are testimony to human ingenuity, trust in others, perseverance, and a will to take full responsibility. They provide compelling evidence that even where people live in abject poverty, human capacity to innovate and find solutions to local development challenges knows no limits.
The book is written in admirably simple everyday English. It has no exotic development theories and has successfully steered clear of jargon, something which has become endemic in contemporary development literature. This makes it a highly accessible and user-friendly guide to ordinary mortals at grassroots level.
Foundation Building Sourcebook
David Winder and A Scott DuPree
Synergos Institute $10
Mokhethi Moshoeshoe is based at the African Institute for Corporate Citizenship,
South Africa. He was previously Director of the Southern Africa Grantmakers’ Association. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org