Return to TrustAfrica »

African Giving Knowledge Base

Philanthropic Foundations and Civil Society in Sub-Saharan Africa

by Christiana Atibil

Dec 1, 2014

Despite the fact that international private foundations and local philanthropic institutions have been supporting the political and economic development of African countries for a number of decades now, scholars of African development and civil society have paid very little attention to their efforts. Neither has there been much discussion about traditional African philanthropy and its relevance (or lack thereof) to community development and civil society. This chapter is an attempt to highlight the link between philanthropy and civil society in sub-Saharan Africa by drawing attention to the role of foreign and local philanthropic institutions in the promotion of civil society and democratic governance on the continent. It defines "philanthropy" as it relates to the African context, outlines the conceptual relationship between "philanthropy" and "civil society," and discusses the major philanthropic institutions working in the area of civil society development in sub-Saharan Africa. It concludes with a discussion of the continued dependence of most donor-supported African philanthropic foundations on external sources for the bulk of their funding and why their financially dependent status could be problematic for the development and strengthening of African civil society.
Philanthropic Foundations and Civil Society in Sub-Saharan Africa