July 30, 2021

New African Philanthropy Forum-Bridgespan Group Study Identifies How Philanthropic Donors Can Overcome Barriers to Funding African NGOs

The report illustrates that African NGOs receive only a small portion of African and global philanthropy, and makes the case for more funding.

JOHANNESBURG—July 30, 2021—Philanthropy both inside and outside of Africa is underfunding the continent’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which receive only a small share of philanthropic gifts on the continent, according to a new publication by the African Philanthropy Forum (APF) and The Bridgespan Group. Over the past decade, African donors directed just 9% of large gifts (by value), and non-African donors just 14%, to NGOs based on the continent.

Funding disparities infographic
African leaders have long shared arguments about why such disparities undercut the change that donors strive to achieve. Bridgespan and APF collaborated on this report to amplify their voices and bring new data and perspectives to the forefront.
Said Mosun Layode, executive director of APF and one of the study’s co-authors: “Our research draws on interviews with more than 60 stakeholders and a survey with 50 respondents, which included African and non-African funders, African NGO leaders, Africa-focused international NGO (INGO) leaders, researchers, and intermediaries.”
Four key themes emerged from the study:

  • Funding flows in Africa are diverse and multifaceted, flowing from different geographies and implemented through different vehicles. The funding disparity faced by African NGOs varies between funder groups, particularly when comparing the approaches of African and non-African funders.
  • The funding disparity flies in the face of a strong impact case for funding African NGOs. Not only do these organisations play a distinct role in the African civil society ecosystem, but also their proximity to the communities they serve imbues and empowers them with particular assets.
  • The barriers preventing more funding from reaching African NGOs exist across the grantmaking process, from funders lacking targeted strategies to fund African NGOs and sourcing practices that are not designed to identify these organisations, to the provision of funding that does not ensure the long-term sustainability of African NGOs.
  • There is growing urgency to overcome these barriers, with a number of funders adapting their approaches to unlock more funding for African NGOs. Among the driving factors for this momentum is the increased focus on racial justice globally and calls for localisation and the shifting of power within the social sector.
 The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has further underscored the urgency of properly funding African NGOs. Jan Schwier, Bridgespan partner and co-author of the report, said, “With many key international actors withdrawing from the continent at the onset of the crisis, Africa-based NGOs had to stretch already overextended budgets to augment government health and humanitarian interventions.”
Schwier continued: “Building robust, strong, supported, and effective local organisations is essential—as a means of not only responding to global crises, but also addressing the day-to-day and continuing needs of local communities battling poverty, global inequalities, the legacy of the past, and political and social challenges.”
To read the full report, visit https://bspan.org/3iW0BRO.
About Bridgespan
The Bridgespan Group (www.bridgespan.org) is a global nonprofit that collaborates with social change organisations, philanthropists, and impact investors to make the world more equitable and just. Bridgespan’s services include strategy consulting and advising, sourcing and diligence, and leadership team support. We take what we learn from this work and build on it with original research, identifying best practices and innovative ideas to share with the social sector. We work from locations in Boston, Johannesburg, Mumbai, New York, and San Francisco.
About the African Philanthropy Forum
African Philanthropy Forum (APF) was established in 2014 to build a learning community of strategic African philanthropists and social investors committed to inclusive and sustainable development throughout the continent. APF supports the development of homegrown philanthropy in Africa in order to transform the culture of giving on the continent. Over the years, APF has established a stronger presence on the continent, with footprints in Egypt, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe through its regional meetings, conferences, and initiatives. APF has also invested in the development of two volumes of the Toolkit for African Philanthropists and the “Why Give” series, which consists of interviews with Africa’s strategic philanthropic leaders to showcase their motivations for giving.

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The Bridgespan Group would like to thank the JPB Foundation for its generous and ongoing support of our knowledge creation and sharing work.