Ghana: momentum and interest in philanthropy is growing

Ghana‘s foundation and philanthropy sector, at a glance:

Number of foundations: 20 (grant making) (source: Ghana Philanthropy Forum Report 2018)
Main umbrella bodies: Ghana Philanthropy Forum, established 2016
State of the sector: The philanthropy ecosystem is changing rapidly. So far, however, the government is advocating self-sufficiency without a clear agenda or roadmap to create the enabling environment for philanthropy. Faith based-giving is rising more than ever before. We also see celebrity philanthropism emerging, but not yet on a scale that is likely to yield a big social impact. Communities are open to the concept of “community foundations” so as not to depend overmuch on external support as they work towards self-sufficiency? A larger part of the population is yet to appreciate philanthropy in a broader development context.
Biggest opportunity in the sector: Momentum and interest in philanthropy is growing among individuals and corporate bodies.
Biggest challenge for the sector: The players in the sector are – to a large extent – operating in silos.

14 March 2019

Interview with Dr Ben Ocra, Director of the Ghana Philanthropy Forum

Dr Ben Ocra
Dr Ben Ocra

Ben, what are the three broad issues that will drive Ghana’s foundation and philanthropy sector in the next 10 years?

  • Building knowledge and capacity on new trends in philanthropy.
  • Creating systems that will ensure sustainability, for example endowment funds and community foundations, venture philanthropy, impact investing, etc.
  • A government policy framework that will strengthen the relationship between Ghana’s foundations, the philanthropy sector and the government, and that will also enhance the capacities and effectiveness of the sector’s players. This will include a government policy to support sector innovation and social enterprise development.

Which topics do you expect philanthropy to focus on?

  • Building a national philanthropy infrastructure in partnership with local philanthropy support entities. This will involve the understanding of the philanthropy ecosystem and the identification of players in the space.
  • Promoting indigenous giving.
  • Ensuring a better coordination of the sector’s activities, with a view to rationalising and strengthening the functionality of the roles and responsibilities of all players in the sector.
  • Developing performance indicators, modules or benchmarks to guide the philanthropy sector.
  • Funding support to create an enabling environment for players to flourish.

What is traditional philanthropy in Ghana, and how do you expect this to develop in the future?
Traditional philanthropy is charitable giving by indigenous individuals or locals. Traditional philanthropy can be developed by providing incentives for giving, public education programmes via different media channels, developing an awards system – such as the “National Philanthropy Excellence Awards” run by the Ghana Philanthropy Forum – and documenting and sharing development impact stories. It can also be developed by promoting transparency, accountability and trust among recipients of charitable donations.

What role will philanthropy take?
Philanthropy should complement government actions in bringing development to its citizens. It must be seen as playing an integrated role in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Philanthropy can also help solve the mounting unemployment situation by encouraging social entrepreneurship, supported by venture philanthropy.

Will Ghana’s philanthropy be more nationally focused, or will it also be regional and global?
Ghana’s philanthropy will be nationally focused as it is emerging now, facing a reduction in external funding. It has not matured to the extent that it can impact the region or the continent. Ghana’s philanthropy is on the verge of discovering indigenous high net worth individuals who can make impactful donations to charity. Quite a few have built hospitals and schools and set up private foundations. Most philanthropists in Ghana will give support to a needy person in education or donate to solve an acute health problem aired on the national television or media.

Is there any other subject which you consider as vital for the sector?
The documentation of a sector-wide report on an annual basis. This will help showcase the quantum of impact the sector is making on development, and it will help demonstrate the value and relevance of the sector.

Are there some developments we are not yet aware of at an international level, but which you see coming along in the future?
I foresee that NGOs will adjust to suit the conditions that will allow them to attract funding other than grants. This could lead to a shift or a dilution of the primary focus for most players in the sector.

If people want to get informed about news and trends in the sector in Ghana, where can they find this information?


Compiled by the EZ-Scout seconded to the Association of German Foundations

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