Innovative Approaches to Grantmaking in Africa

Photo credit: International Treatment Preparedness Coalition

Photo credit: International Treatment Preparedness Coalition

There are so many exciting and innovative grantmaking approaches focusing in Africa these days. Some foundations are taking the lead in challenging traditional models of grantmaking on the continent and working hard to make sure resources go directly to people in communities who are making change and struggling for equity and justice. In addition, tremendous opportunities have evolved around collaborations between foundations that have traditionally targeted issue areas separated by politics and policies, but linked in communities and people’s lives. The recent highlight of the collaborative foundation work in Liberia in this week's Chronicle of Philanthropy is but one example. If you have a subscription, check out the article: Foundation-Financed Office in Liberia Seeks to Build and Guide Philanthropic Efforts.

At Tides, we moved $7.2 million to Africa in 2009 through such innovative strategies as the HIV Collaborative Fund for Treatment Preparedness, the New Field Foundation, the Money Well Spent Fund, and the Africa Family Planning Integration Fund. Tides’ commitment to moving money to grassroots organizations has demanded that we develop the infrastructures and systems to ensure money gets to those organizations and people with the cultural competency to partner well with activists in Africa; as well as directly fund organizations on the continent that are well positioned to provide services in their own communities.

The organizations supported by Tides through the various Africa-based initiatives provide services in a way that responds to the needs of the communities; involves them in the process; and provides opportunities to leverage resources and build effective models for sustainability. As part of our commitment to strengthening infrastructures, Tides supports direct services; the creation and implementation of international policies that secure resources based on need; and efforts to track the efficiency and effectiveness of resources spent in regions and on issue areas.

Getting the infrastructure right is essential when moving money to grassroots communities in Africa. If we don’t get it right, the dynamic, creative, and systemic change that is happening will have a harder time flourishing; and the energy for changing the way philanthropy works in Africa will not be sustained, nor will it evolve.

Written by Ellen Friedman and Renée Joslyn

One Response to “Innovative Approaches to Grantmaking in Africa”

  1. Thank you for this piece on sending aid to Africa. I love hearing about innovative approaches. As I see it, the challenge is to get the right kind of aid to the right people.

    It's definitely so important to remember that there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to aid. Some populations of poverty need direct aid to simply eat. Others can eat, but need direct investment, and donations, to attain an education and solid healthcare. On the next level, many can receive microfinance investments to start a business. Furthering the process, a person formerly in steep poverty can attain solid job training and employment opportunities. Which then leads to the developing a middle class: A Middle Class that can care about voting, health, education and being a participatory citizen caring not only about survival, but also contributing to the growth and positive development of their community.

    We need it all: direct aid, for profit investment and philanthropy — invested at different times, and different ways, across different life times, before we can get out of the woods of poverty.

    As we work to achieve this, we have to make sure aid is going to the most effective organizations. This is a major focus of UniversalGiving, as we vet all our partner NGOs through our rigorous Quality Model™ before their projects can appear on our site. As you describe, we need aid to go to the people who are poised to make a difference, and who are as efficient and effective as possible.

    Thank you for this article--it's inspiring to see the work Tides is doing!

    Pamela Hawley
    Founder and CEO

    [email protected]

    Living and Giving blog

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