A new approach to philanthropy in relation to working with Africa

Mitdenkrunde Afrika

Last week, members of the Association of German Foundations and foundations and networks from Africa and the US met in Berlin and via videoconference to discuss the topic “Cooperation between African and German partners: What do we expect from each other and what do we need to make it work well?”

An amazing group of people came together, bringing a wealth of experience of working in Africa and in partnership with other organisations. The event was held in the form of a Reflection and Planning Circle, a discussion and exchange format of the Association of German Foundations, to jointly engage with members and key stakeholders in order to inform and build common approaches to strategically important areas of work.

The dialogue brought to the fore three areas where participants are now looking for follow-up:

1) Providing a useful mapping of relevant access points for collaborating with African partners.

This is about mapping relevant access points, relevant partners and relevant expert networks. The aim is to link to people and organisations who know about working in, and working with, Africa.

Gerhard Bissinger
Social Business Stiftung

"Networking with people in foundations and in partner organisations, and promoting their exchange through discussions and visits, should be the most important goal of the initiative: it is all about people, people, people!"

Gerhard Bissinger, Founder, Social Business Foundation

2) Advocating to improve the legal framework for German foundations collaborating with African partners.

This refers in particular to the area of institutional and long-term, unrestricted funding, which is needed to build the capacity of African partners beyond project funding.

Sarah Link
cdw Stiftung gGmbH

"One of the biggest challenges for a German foundation working in an international context is complying with the non-profit laws while building long-term cooperation structures with local partners, ensuring a sustainable project design that corresponds to the site-specific realities and establishing the transnational processes required for the implementation of the project or program. Linking actors dealing with similar legal matters and providing a better access to information regarding the possibilities and limits of the non-profit laws governing international project work would enable foundations to better fulfill their role as change makers and social innovators."

Sarah Link, Managing Director, cdw Stiftung gGmbH

3) Working with a broader toolbox to transfer assets and build sustainable local development,

as the current systems and procedures do not give us the access to build sustainable local development that we need. The participants agreed that it is necessary to think more progressively as regards new tools, systems and processes that allow us to fight the current crises around leadership in Africa (for example) and around the topic of refugees and migration, which is still a big issue in Africa and which at the same time affects many other countries.

Dedo N. Baranshamaje
Segal Family Foundation

"Foundations have the ability and flexibility to accelerate social innovations and growth – but to be successful, it is going to be very important to start listening and bringing in missing voices. This will require changing our systems and processes, allowing mutual and equal dialogue, co-designed systems and processes, and mutual and shared ideas of long-term impact beyond quick results."

Dedo N. Baranshamaje, Director of Special Projects, Segal Family Foundation

We are working on these three areas for follow-up now, while also preparing further opportunities to connect and be in dialogue about a new approach to philanthropy in relation to working with Africa. Stay tuned for upcoming developments and contact us if you want to be part of the discussion.

Coumba Toure
Djiby Sy

"What will bring about change is not the amount of money foundations have in hand but the humility and the courage of foundations to establish relationships with organisations and people in Africa tackling the root causes of the problems they are facing."

Coumba Toure, Board Member, TrustAfrica Foundation

Dr. Annette Kleinbrod

EZ-Scout of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
seconded to the Association of German Foundations

Telefon (030) 89 79 47-83