Development aid meets community philanthropy

At a recent roundtable in Johannesburg hosted by the Aga Khan Foundation (US) and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, leading practitioners from African foundations concluded that official development agencies need to put community philanthropy at the heart of local sustainability.  

The meeting was held to discuss the possibility of a programme to support the development of community philanthropy in Africa. Rather than suggesting support for particular institutions, the meeting concluded that the main priority was to reframe the way that aid works and better connect community philanthropy practitioners with official development agencies, so that community philanthropy is recognized as a valuable and legitimate feature of development practice.

To gain this recognition, the meeting suggested that the field of community philanthropy needs to demonstrate its value, define its terms, show legitimate and transparent behaviour in favour of the common good, and communicate more clearly.

The Aga Khan Foundation (US) has instigated a programme of conversations with aid agencies. So far, these suggest that community philanthropy is not on their radar. However, the conversations suggest that a successful partnership between community philanthropy and development aid could be forged if the added value of such a partnership could be demonstrated.

The next stage of the work is a further roundtable planned for September in Dhaka with a final report to be produced by the end of the year.

For more information
Contact Sarah Comer of AKF USA at

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