The Bridgespan Group Releases Analysis of Large-scale Philanthropic Giving by African Donors



Examination of 63 Major Gifts Totaling Over $1B Has Insights into How Africa’s Billionaires Give, What Makes them Different from Other Philanthropists

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA—June 16, 2020—The Bridgespan Group, a global nonprofit organization that collaborates with mission-driven organizations, today released a research brief, “The Landscape of Large-scale Giving by African Philanthropists,” which analyzes donations of $1 million or more by donors both based in and giving to African causes.
“While charitable giving has a long history on the continent,” said research brief co-author Jan Schwier, The Bridgespan Group partner and head of its Africa Initiative, “The last 30 years have seen the emergence of more formal philanthropy in Africa. Some of Africa’s high-net-worth individuals are engaging in large, structured giving, often through organized vehicles, such as institutional foundations.”
Added Schwier’s co-author and Bridgespan Case Team Leader Maddie Holland, “And now, several of these donors have played a pronounced role in the continent’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, with major commitments to relief and recovery efforts.”
To understand what is driving this type of giving in Africa, a Bridgespan team interviewed 28 donors, foundation staff, and experts from seven African countries and the U.S. and analyzed gifts of $1 million or more in five countries in sub-Saharan Africa. They studied 63 gifts totaling over $1 billion made between 2010 and 2019 and also examined the existing body of research on the topic of African philanthropy. The analysis surfaced three key practices:
  1. African donors of large gifts give mainly within their own countries
  2. The majority of gifts by African donors go towards addressing basic needs
  3. African donors give mainly to the public sector and their own operating foundations, with limited funding reaching NGOs
“We want to emphasize that our sample of large gifts by African donors reflects only publicly available information,” says Schwier. “It is not a comprehensive view of large-scale giving. A great deal of giving in Africa goes unpublicized, in part due to the fact that many countries in Africa do not have tax incentives and accompanying reporting requirements for giving, as in Europe and the United States.”

Additionally, according to Ndana Bofu-Tawamba, executive director of the Urgent Action Fund Africa, “In African culture, philanthropy is supposed to be a private gesture. Public displays of wealth are often frowned upon.”

Read “The Landscape of Large-Scale Giving by African Philanthropists.”

About The Bridgespan Group
The Bridgespan Group ( is a global nonprofit organization that collaborates with mission-driven organizations, philanthropists, and investors to break cycles of poverty and dramatically improve the quality of life for those in need. With a presence in Boston, Mumbai, New York, Johannesburg and San Francisco, Bridgespan’s services include strategy consulting, leadership development, philanthropy and nonprofit advising, impact investing strategy and diligence, and developing and sharing practical insights
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