Your recent article in Alliance Online, ‘What Should Philanthropy Do?’ is an article that I feel has the potential to transform the mindset of all who would like to see the world we live in change for the better. The issues the authors raise have lessons for everyone: international and national big business; governments, at all levels; and civil society organizations. Extreme forms of poverty, the accumulation of wealth by a few, and social and economic inequalities are, in my humble opinion, serious enough to warrant some permanent space on the world’s agenda.
As part of a CSO, Uthungulu Community Foundation, I fully agree with the author’s analysis of the situation with regard to the question of social justice and the continuing tendency for most public policies to come from above. Public policies should flow from the interplay of ideas among ordinary people, but, as it is, there is little or no input from ordinary people into the making of policies that directly affect their lives. I think foundations need to do more than they currently do to promote and develop public policy dialogue within communities, and between government and private sector organizations.
How do we do this? Maybe we need to develop guidelines for CSOs to find ways to engage with all sectors of society on social justice. We at Uthungulu are working with two South African universities to ensure that issues of public participation in the policy-making process do not get lost in academic debates and discussions at national and international conferences. Articles similar to the one in question also have a role to play here and need to be further explored. Most of all, if we are to address the social justice agenda effectively, we urgently need concrete examples of what individuals and organizations do on the ground to develop, promote and practise a culture of inclusion in public policy-making processes.
CEO, Uthungulu Community Foundation, South Africa