TrustAfrica launches new ‘African giving’ literature database

Philanthropy, or giving, has long been practised on the African continent, though the study of African giving, as a field, is a fairly new one. The existing literature is unsatisfactory in many ways: it has often been dominated by a discourse based in the global North; it has concentrated on formal, legal philanthropic processes which were topdown in nature; and expressions, traditions and mechanisms of giving so characteristic of African societies were not recognized or acknowledged as philanthropy. But now there is a new energy around development of knowledge on giving that is grounded in practice and contextually relevant.

We recognize, however, that there already exists an array of written material on African giving, but it has been written from a variety of disciplines and scattered in many places – and never acknowledged as falling within the field. As a result, it has not been possible to aggregate, assess or analyse what the existing literature tells us about the field as a whole or the multiple forms of giving on the continent.

As one step in consolidating a foundation for further knowledge development and analysis, TrustAfrica[1] and IssueLab, a service of the US-based Foundation Center, have developed an online database of literature on African giving. Comprising almost 800 documents, this database includes resources in English, French, Arabic and Portuguese, covering multiple countries and ranging from formal philanthropic literature to writings on local systems of solidarity.

We hope that this repository will help us to set a foundation for examining what we know about the field in Africa as a whole, identify both gaps in our understanding and opportunities for new knowledge, and serve as a base for reflecting on, strengthening and supporting the development of the field.

We see these initial entries as a beginning; we are conscious that there may be many more documents that could be added, and welcome anyone being in touch to submit these. If you wish to submit entries to this database please feel free to contact Halima Mahomed at

For more information


  1. ^ TrustAfrica would like to acknowledge the contribution of Social Surveys to this literature repository.

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