The longstanding strategies of fundraising by African NGOs are formed by distinctive challenges, usually rooted in financial, political, and cultural elements in addition to vestiges of colonialism.
  • Opinion by Angela Umoru David, Tafadzwa Munyaka (big apple / washington dc)
  • Inter Press Service

The World Association of Non-governmental Organizations (WANGO) lists 4912 of such entities working within the Continent, which is secure to say is just a fraction of the true quantity since many might not be registered on that platform. These non-state actors usually depend on the goodwill of volunteers, particular person donors, native grant-making our bodies, worldwide philanthropy and humanitarian help to fund and facilitate their operations.

As lofty as their mission or magnanimous as their benefactors is perhaps, the sheer quantity begs the query of how sustainable their funding strategies actually are.

As practitioners within the African growth house, we’ve got noticed through the years that the longstanding strategies of fundraising by African NGOs are formed by distinctive challenges, usually rooted in financial, political, and cultural elements in addition to vestiges of colonialism. These elements breed an over-reliance on funding from exterior the continent, primarily from Western donor nations and worldwide growth organisations.

Overview of the Present Funding Panorama

Philanthropy and humanitarian help from the International North represent a big chunk of the funding that African NGOs depend upon annually. As a rule, such funding comes with ‘strings connected’ like specifying the problems that the native organisations ought to deal with, the proportion of the funding that ought to go to areas of concern and rigorous reporting calls for.

It’s fairly widespread for funding to be unceremoniously withdrawn when an organisation is termed non-compliant to donor necessities.

“The worldwide circulate of help assets hinders the effectiveness and sustainability of native NGOs, in addition to their means to scale and construct capability”, writes Carlos Mureithi, Kenyan journalist. As well as, funding is normally routed via bigger worldwide non-profits whereas native ones solely function ‘implementing companions’.

With such intermediaries within the image, native NGOs are pressured to work inside the confines of their funding associate’s stipulations. Whereas there have been latest requires localisation and shifting company to Africa-based organisations, the reverberations are but to be felt throughout the NGO panorama in Africa.

Equally, smaller nonprofit organisations are utterly lower off from worldwide funding as a result of they lack the social credibility and recognition. This creates a cycle the place solely essentially the most ‘seen’ native non-profits regularly obtain funding. The ‘invisible’ nonprofits are inadvertently depending on native grant-making our bodies (which are sometimes implementing companions of worldwide funders), particular person donors within the communities they serve, self-funding and crowdfunding platforms.

A traditional state of affairs is a case within the South-Japanese a part of Zimbabwe. A specific district had been grappling with pervasive points of kid marriages, an alarming fee of teenybopper pregnancies, and college dropouts. In 2019, this plight of weak youths caught the eye of a UN company who reached out to supply a serving to hand.

Nonetheless, there have been variations of opinion on what the company was keen to assist and what the District termed to be the true want. Traditionally, the District had been marked by extreme financial challenges stemming from durations of political instability and different socio-economic points.

These challenges had created poverty and youth restiveness that left communities to grapple with the results presenting themselves as college students dropping out, baby marriages and teenage pregnancies exacerbated by inadequacies in healthcare and poor schooling programs. To the District management, tackling these results was most pressing however the worldwide donor company wished to fund delivery registrations as a substitute, which in line with District data, have been already at a 95% protection and success fee.

Whereas delivery registration is essential, the highlighted points referred to as for a extra complete and holistic method. Subsequently, native wants, whereas urgent, could also be overshadowed by the particular preferences and pointers set by exterior funders.

Of a reality, the historic dependence on exterior funding has been each a blessing and a curse. Whereas it offers crucial assets, it generally restricts the pliability of communities to deal with their challenges autonomously and radically.

Why the Current Fundraising Mannequin isn’t Sustainable

1 – Agenda-setting: The panorama of worldwide funding for neighborhood growth is commonly a double-edged sword. Whereas monetary assist from worldwide donors could be a lifeline for communities dealing with varied drawbacks, the connected circumstances for such funding generally result in clashes of values.

This poses a major drawback to the prevailing mannequin of fundraising, as communities could discover themselves at a crossroads between assembly speedy wants via the funding offered and adhering to their core values and ideas. The mannequin additionally perpetuates an imbalance of energy between worldwide donors and native communities.

The ability dynamics can hinder real, bi-lateral collaboration and will lead to choices that prioritise the donor’s pursuits over the neighborhood’s wants. The Large Brother syndrome is actual. Moreover, like within the story above, worldwide donors could have particular agendas pushed by international considerations, political leanings or their organisational mandates. These could not all the time align with the grassroots aims of communities. For instance, a donor may prioritise instructing folks their rights, whereas the neighborhood seeks growth of its immunisation program.

2 – Poverty: The fundraising establishment does little to rework programs, creates an over-dependence on international help and perpetuates a cycle of poverty. On the flipside, small NGOs who usually are not on the radar of international donors depend on particular person giving or are self-funded and which means that the assets solely trickle in.

This limits the affect of tasks and forces the workers to stay on the barest minimal. In Nigeria, an ongoing jab at growth employees is that the NGO workers’s lifestyle is so beneath par that they need to even be beneficiaries of their very own tasks (particularly in livelihood and financial empowerment tasks).

That is because of the excessive poverty and unemployment charges in most African cities. Despite the fact that the Continent has a protracted and wealthy historical past of native organising, most neighborhood members merely can’t afford to spare the little they’ve for altruistic functions.

In the identical vein, the excessive poverty ranges breeds discontent in direction of the federal government and doesn’t encourage many Africans to assist the initiatives of native NGOs. It’s a widespread notion that the residents are already doing an excessive amount of by spearheading the availability of primary facilities like electrical energy, pipe-borne water and roads. Subsequently, the questions are, “Why ought to we maintain doing a lot? Why are NGOs pressured to do the work that the federal government needs to be doing?” This excessive poverty fee and disillusionment usually stops folks from donating to NGOs round them.

How Can We Enhance Fundraising in Africa?

Nonprofit fundraising in Africa has been marred by financial disparities, exterior dependencies, and altering political landscapes. Within the pursuit of sustainable growth, we suggest a shift that makes us look inwards at diaspora investments, native organising, and deliberate giving (together with endowments) to offer African NGOs with the instruments to navigate the historic challenges whereas securing long-term monetary stability.

1 – Deliberate giving: Also referred to as legacy or deferred giving, it’s a distinctive and strategic method to fundraising that focuses on securing long-term monetary assist for NGOs. It includes a number of key elements together with bequests, charitable reward annuities, life insurance coverage, or retirement plans.

In contrast to conventional donations, deliberate giving includes preparations made throughout a donor’s lifetime that can take impact at a future date. This type of philanthropy permits people to depart an enduring legacy, making certain that their contributions proceed to assist a trigger expensive to their hearts even past their lifetime.

The well-heeled in our African communities might be inspired to significantly think about deliberate giving as not solely a strategic avenue for them as donors to create an enduring affect on the causes they care about however to depart a significant legacy that displays their values and dedication to optimistic change.

We acknowledge that deliberate giving choices are extremely private and influenced by particular person circumstances. Nonetheless, within the dynamic panorama of African fundraising, securing sustainable funding is a perpetual problem.

Deliberate giving, with its deal with long-term philanthropy, presents an impactful answer for these nonprofits in the event that they started creating educative campaigns to attract consideration to this type of philanthropy. We consider that this piece additionally creates a chance for the well-to-do to discover this risk.

In the identical vein, one other beacon of monetary stability and long-term sustainability for NGOs in Africa are endowments. An endowment within the context of nonprofit fundraising refers to a devoted fund established by an organisation, sometimes via donations or different monetary contributions, with the intention of sustaining and rising the principal quantity over time.

Within the context of the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and reaching the mantra ‘African options to African issues’, endowments supply a strategic avenue for securing a dependable supply of earnings, fostering autonomy and resilience. Endowments, similar to deliberate giving initiatives, supply alternatives for sustained funding, permitting organisations to plan for the longer term and obtain lasting affect.

The continent boasts of a giant array of people who’ve the capability to offer endowments to causes that align with their pursuits. In an age of social standing and obscene wealth being flaunted on social media, we ask, “How may this wealth be harnessed for long-term advantages in addressing neighborhood challenges?”

The continent additionally boasts of a giant diaspora neighborhood that may be invited to associate with native organisations via endowments in service of urgent social and neighborhood wants.

2 – Diaspora funding: The United Nations studies that in 2022 diaspora remittances reached $100 billion, surpassing funds obtained via Overseas Direct Funding (FDI) and Official Growth Help (ODA).

This whopping sum is basically resulting from excessive poverty ranges within the continent that compels relations who stay overseas to ship a reimbursement house but it surely exhibits two issues– the assets collectively owned by Africans within the diaspora could make an enormous distinction and a powerful tradition of giving again already exists, so it may very well be structured and leveraged for a better good.

We acknowledge that diaspora remittances are personal (despatched straight by immigrants to their households in Africa for private/household use) but it surely nonetheless presents an thrilling risk of sustainable fundraising for native NGOs.

A Nigerian non-profit, Jela’s Development Initiatives employs this tactic via private connections to Nigerians dwelling overseas, and requests for recurring donations of $20 or £20, relying on the donor’s nation of residence.

In Zimbabwe, Sisonke ZW Family Trust has a few of their board members who stay within the diaspora contributing various quantities month-to-month with a minimal of $100 to assist the organisation’s actions. Whereas these haven’t but yielded massive scale outcomes, with focused campaigns and narrative change on giving, diaspora funding presents a singular means of channelling assets on to the organisations that want them essentially the most.

3 – Native organising: By nature, Africans are largely communal and this has resulted in lots of neighborhood members banding collectively to deal with societal injustice and growing native options.

This trait is one that may be organised and explored to fundraise for native non-profits. For instance, in North-Central Nigeria, Vaccine Network for Disease Control mobilises feminine small enterprise homeowners to ‘undertake’ a major healthcare centre, the place she makes a donation in direction of the power, takes on accountability to assist the monitoring of that facility and holds it accountable in its service supply.

The donations usually are not cumbersome to the ladies and it creates a neighborhood networked system of accountability and possession. An identical initiative exists in Zimbabwe the place the Citizen Initiative noticed the development of classroom blocks and ablution services in rural areas with residents financing the tasks.

These examples present that native organising works, even whether it is on a small scale. Nonetheless, if extra grassroot NGOs adopted this system, involving neighborhood members within the identification of issues and design of native options, they’d be greater than keen to co-execute and monitor the success of such initiatives in direction of desired outcomes.

Too usually, native NGOs are extra involved with catching the eye of the worldwide funders that they neglect the benefit Africans have as a communal society and the facility inside that to safe lasting change.


Addressing the prevailing fundraising system in Africa and its linked challenges requires a multifaceted method. By empowering native organisations, selling cultural sensitivity, and advocating for supportive insurance policies, we are able to pave the way in which for sustainable growth that originates from inside communities themselves.

Whereas worldwide funding undoubtedly performs a vital position in neighborhood growth and we aren’t advocating for throwing the newborn with the tub water, we keep that addressing the conflict of values and energy imbalance is paramount for the success and sustainability of tasks.

We additionally acknowledge the trouble of pan-African philanthropic organisations just like the African Visionary Fund to democratise the funding house and abide by game-changing ideas like multi-year funding and institutional capability growth however one organisation is unquestionably not sufficient to serve the wants of the Continent.

Such visionary approaches must be duplicated by different indigenous philanthropic organisations. Thus, it’s via collaborative efforts that we are able to construct a extra resilient and self-reliant future for Africa’s community-based initiatives. Finally, it’s time to look inward and restructure how we give. The time is now.

Angela Umoru-David is a inventive social affect advocate whose expertise cuts throughout journalism, program design and company/growth communications, and goals to seize a plurality of views that positively affect the African narrative.

Tafadzwa Munyaka is a nonprofit/social change skilled with crosscutting experience in fundraising, program administration, and baby rights advocacy.

© Inter Press Service (2023) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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