IV. Donor Support to AROs and CSOs
From TrustAfrica wiki - African Regional Organizations
This section begins with a snapshot of the global context as a means of better understanding the role and impact of private foundations in supporting African regional organizations.
During the Cold War, the emphasis in private philanthropy was on international affairs and peace and security. Subsequently the emphasis has shifted dramatically toward developmental concerns. These have included a greater focus on international development, health and family planning, education, human rights, and civil liberties. Accompanying this shift has been a decline in spending for international affairs and peace and security programs.
The last decade or so saw an explosion in overseas funding by U.S. foundations. This reflected a doubling of the number of philanthropic foundations in the U.S. between 1995 and 2005, and the incremental increase in their international funding—which doubled between 1998 and 2001, rising from US$1.8 billion to US$3.3 billion. Twelve major foundations now allocate some 50 percent of their funding for global public goods such as health, education, and the environment.
Ramifications of 9/11
The attacks on September 11, 2001, interrupted this trend and registered a profound effect on grant-making. The financial crisis that followed led to a drop in the value of foundation endowments, and this in turn brought about a significant reduction in the size of grant-making budgets, which lasted until 2004. This undoubtedly had an impact on funding of CSOs.
Despite this downturn, international grant-making rebounded from the decline of the previous 3 years, rising by 11 percent in 2004 and 8 percent in 2005. This was primarily due to the exponential increase in funding for global health by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has donated US$5.8 billion through its Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative alone. Also, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation pumped nearly US$ 1 billion into its Andes-Amazon initiative to conserve biodiversity. Another factor in the increase was the substantial foundation support in response to the humanitarian disasters in South Asia and the Sudan.
While the attacks led to restrictions on philanthropy, they also brought home to foundations the importance of balancing the governmental preoccupation with terrorism and security with the need to create a climate for tolerance and peace. This is manifested by a clear division of labor in which bilateral and multilateral donors focus on security concerns, such as the rebuilding of ‘failed’ states, while private foundations rally their resources to support developmental concerns. Private foundations are strong believers in the international system, and work closely with European nations and development agencies (who critically provide a bridge between the foundations and Africa), major international organizations (including the UN system), as well as development-serving regional organizations and initiatives such as NEPAD (see donor matrix on p.336).
Health, education, and the environment constitute the three biggest sectoral priorities of U.S. private foundations today , with health accounting for 31 percent of total international support from foundations, and education and the environment each accounting for 8 percent. The high outlay on health reflects the growing interest among private foundations in global public goods and the impact of HIV/AIDS, in line with the shift in priorities highlighted above. At the same time, and within the health sector, it raises concerns that support may be diminishing to issues that have major relevance for Africa’s development. One of these is reproductive health (see Thematic Overview).
In addition to the fight against HIV and AIDS, other concerns now attracting significant support include protection of civil liberties and human rights, promotion of free expression through open media, amplifying Southern voices, campaigns to ban landmines and conflict diamonds, efforts to increase corporate accountability and rein in capital in the context of globalization, and market-based approaches to social and environmental justice .
CSO-led initiatives to advance the interests of poor countries in the global economy and compel the World Bank, IMF, and other international economic institutions to be more accountable are also attracting increased interest. One such initiative is the Structural Adjustment Participatory Review International Network (SAPRIN), supported by the MacArthur, Kellogg, and Rockefeller Foundations. Third World Network–Africa (TWN–Africa), a leading ARO focused on social and economic justice (see profile on p. 329), which also receives support from the Ford Foundation, was a prime mover in SAPRIN.
The Southern and Eastern African Trade and Investment Negotiations Initiative (SEATINI), which supports African negotiations in the WTO Uruguay Round and related processes, has also won support from U.S. foundations, notably the Rockefeller Foundation and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Spurred by the growth of NGOs in emerging democracies, improvement in telecommunications, growth of local philanthropy and technical assistance capacity , and other factors, a number of foundations have sought to expand their presence in the global South. For instance, the Open Society has established affiliated funds in more than 24 countries in recent years. In Africa, successive Open Society initiatives have been set up for West, Southern, and Eastern Africa, along with related initiatives such as AfriMAP . As a result, continentally-focused CSO-led work on human rights, governance, and other themes has been energized and is expanding.
Significantly, although the proportion of U.S. foundation grants to overseas recipients dropped to US$822 million in 2004, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for one-fifth of the amount, more than any other region . Global programs of international NGOs such as the UK-based International HIV/AIDS Alliance also rank high on the list.
This is an indication that the sector in Africa may not yet be robust enough to attract sufficient direct support, as well as a pointer to the extent to which CSOs affiliate themselves to global thematic campaigns and concerns, and are partially dependent on funds from international NGOs. It also demonstrates the influence that programming on global issues, such as HIV/AIDS, has on the work of AROs in Africa.
When foundations choose non-American recipients, this aid becomes very geographically concentrated. In 2003 and 2004, for example, 90 percent of the Kellogg Foundation’s grant-making went to either Africa or Latin America. The Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Mellon Foundation focused on sub-Saharan Africa. Other foundations—such as Hewlett, Ford, and MacArthur—tend to concentrate on global issues.
As a rule, U.S. foundations prefer to put most of their funding in relatively industrialized and emerging economies, as opposed to the poorest countries . In the African context, South Africa therefore accounts for the largest share of Africa-destined funding, followed by Nigeria and Kenya . This goes some way toward explaining the concentration of CSOs headquartered in these capitals, and the relative dearth of continental organizations in many other African nations.
With the above context in mind, this section highlights key findings from the survey as related to donor funding of AROs and CSOs.
Overall, and across the spectrum of donors, the survey found a growing recognition of the importance of regional approaches. However, where such recognition exists, it is mainly top-down. Bilateral and multilateral donors, for example, are keen to help bolster the capacity of AROs to manage continental frameworks and initiatives. This is particularly evident in two of the themes of this survey—peace and security, and governance. And yet citizen participation in the lion’s share of these TBO-led initiatives is residual and attracts significantly less support.
The most consistent supporters of continental organizations are philanthropic foundations. This particularly applies to the institutions of higher learning like the African Virtual University (AVU) and the Association of African Universities (AAU—see profiles on pp. 307 and 308), research institutes with strong track records (such as CODESRIA, see profile on p. 313), as well as many international inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations in the area of environment. However, CSOs in particular are increasingly becoming dependent on well-resourced and well-staffed international NGOs, which are themselves Africanizing their operations and occupying center stage.
Private foundations have not been systematic in helping fill the gaps in these TBO-led initiatives, but have instead supported CSO initiatives in a piecemeal fashion. This approach has yielded success in human rights, a theme that remains at the core of the missions of many Africa-focused organizations. Yet while support is relatively consistent, it is not always sufficiently predictable or long-term. This tends to undermine continental initiatives such as advocacy coalitions and networks, which find it difficult to register impact beyond influencing norm-setting processes.
A second general finding is that the funding of regional organizations is by and large characterized by a lack of coherence, with both AROs and CSOs suffering from the fallout of this phenomenon. As the table on page 336 shows, private foundation support in the five themes of this study is extensive. Nevertheless, although foundations share information about their grantees, there are few systematic mechanisms to ensure coherent funding. While basket funding approaches are gaining currency, and while organizations who receive core funding are increasingly finding ways to coordinate their engagement with donors, systems and structures to ensure coherence on the donor side are thin on the ground.
As a result, strategic cross-fertilization among foundations and between foundations and bilateral/multilateral donors is less than optimal. Indeed, an important raison d’être for the survey is the relative lack of knowledge among private foundations as to each other’s strategies.
Third, there is a general tendency among foundations to support project or program activities without paying sufficient attention to institutional strengthening. This emerged as a common refrain from CSOs, which felt strongly that foundations could do much more to help ensure their sustainability. Foundations are clearly better placed to address these needs than bilateral donors, whose multiple efforts to build capacity in AROs to date have consistently failed to achieve the desired results.
One notable exception is the Canadian International Development Research Center (IDRC), which has consistently supported research institutes, think tanks, and networks across Africa for at least three decades and has systematically sought to build sustainable institutions. Networks such as the Secretariat for Institutional Support of Economic Research in Africa (SISERA) and the African Economics Research Consortium (AERC) owe their continued existence to the consistent and strategic manner in which they have been supported by IDRC.
The Hewlett Foundation, which prides itself on building institutional capacity in all the fields it supports, has also recognized the pivotal importance of building strong local research institutions in developing countries as a means of engendering home-grown development policy. In February 2006, Hewlett’s Board of Directors approved a US$100 million envelope over 10 years dedicated to strengthening independent think tanks and research centers. The Hewlett approach explicitly includes strategic multi-year support to build and sustain institutional capacity . Although the focus is on national institutions, it is likely a few sub-regional or continental CSOs may be supported. The Ford Foundation is exploring ways of building sustainable institutions in the domain of arts and culture.
A fourth, related finding is that private foundation funding for long-term support is becoming increasingly scarce, even as organizations look to foundations and other donors to invest in ensuring their predictability and sustainability. This may be partly due to the post-9/11 contraction in grant-making budgets discussed above, a phenomenon that led many foundations to revisit their policies and make decisions to cut funding to thematic areas that had attracted significant support in the past. On the other hand, in the spirit of the Paris Declaration , bilateral donors are striving to make their aid more coherent and predictable. A similar impetus is missing on the foundation side.
Another possible reason for the lack of long-term support is the changing of the guard in a number of major internationally focused foundations. The current leadership at the Rockefeller Foundation, for example, believes that supporting big initiatives and high-tech innovations provides the best chance for major developmental impact. This has led to new initiatives such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a US$150 million program co-funded by Rockefeller and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the aim of transforming African agriculture through biotechnology.
Traditional areas of support have inevitably given way to this new thinking—with Rockefeller, for instance, deciding to cease funding to population programs in 2001–2002 after playing a pivotal role in setting the agenda and sustaining a number of CSOs over several decades . Other foundations are considering following suit. Given that CSOs tend to follow the money, major changes in the priorities of private foundations will inevitably have serious consequences in key thematic areas.
Just as continental CSOs are finding it harder to obtain predictable, long-term support, they face increasing pressure to demonstrate their effectiveness and impact. The advent of results-based management has forced many organizations to upgrade their project management, monitoring, and evaluation systems to meet the multiple requirements imposed by their funders. As a number of those surveyed in this report emphasized, receiving funds from multiple donors can divert organizations from their core mission as key officers spend more and more time accounting for funding in a proliferation of reporting formats.
Unless foundations find ways to streamline and harmonize their approaches and requirements, the trend of upward accountability will increase, creating something of a paradox at a time when the demands are growing for greater downward accountability. At the same time recipient problems—such as insufficient capacity to cope with emerging demands and issues—also need to be addressed.
Observations by Theme
What follows is a brief identification of issues and trends in donor funding of AROs and CSOs, disaggregated by theme. A comprehensive list of donors and the organizations they support or have supported in the recent past can be found in the table in Annex VIII.
Governance: As highlighted in Section III of this survey, the ‘good governance’ agenda is not new to Africa, or to donors. Some aspects of this agenda—particularly those related to rule of law and electoral democracy—have attracted donor support for a number of years. Civil-service reform and the decentralization agenda, for example, constituted a pillar of bilateral support from the early 1990s onwards, with donors keen to replicate Northern New Public Management approaches in developing countries.
The current incarnation of governance, linked to the new aid relationship, remains largely the preserve of intergovernmental donors. It is also largely technocratic, as evidenced by the mission of the few organizations working explicitly on governance (such as the Center for Corporate Governance in Kenya). Nevertheless, private foundations are beginning to recognize the importance of more overtly political engagement by civil society in what is essentially a statist agenda. As highlighted earlier, this has led the Open Society family to invest significant resources in AfriMAP as a means of promoting a pluralistic and more people-serving governance agenda in political, economic, as well as corporate spheres. The MacArthur Foundation’s Africa program is dedicated to strengthening rule of law through support to justice and rule of law.
Peace and Security: Again, this is a theme on which bilaterals, the EU, and UN lead. With the recent ending of long-running conflicts in some African countries, bilateral donors, working closely with the World Bank and European Commission, are now focusing on post-conflict reconstruction and security sector reform. These donors have created new categories to classify states—such as ‘failed states’, ‘low-income countries under stress’, ‘countries emerging from conflict’, ‘post-conflict countries’, and so on—as a means of streamlining their assistance. At the ARO level the emphasis is the AU-led peace and security agenda.
As highlighted in the profile of the AU’s Peace and Security Directorate (see p.69), support to this agenda is largely donor-driven and high in transaction cost due to poor donor coherence and low absorptive capacity in the AROs. Private foundations support important aspects of the agenda from a civil society perspective, such as initiatives on women and peace-building. However, as highlighted earlier, there is no overarching framework for such support, with each foundation using its own internal criteria to make funding decisions. CSO capacity therefore remains weak and its impact fragmented.
Human Rights: Private foundations have long supported rights-focused regional actors in Africa, and this arguably constitutes the biggest success story to date. As noted earlier, this is in large part because human rights are at the core of the mandates of a large number of foundations. The foundations’ focus on rights also reflects the geopolitical divide among donors. Bilateral donors are wary of upsetting governments and rarely stick out their necks to support human rights-focused CSOs, instead preferring to support safe and uncontroversial issues to preserve bilateral relations, which inevitably have political and economic dimensions. By their very nature, multilateral IGOs are owned by countries, and this limits their choice of themes and approaches to funding.
Because they are independent from such influences, foundations constitute the natural funding partners for human rights-focused civil society. The result is a growing formation of CSOs engaging with and influencing the discourse and practice of human rights in Africa. In particular, foundation support has enabled them to help shape regional instruments and entities, while building a regional awareness of rights that has reverberated at national level. A real opportunity exists to ensure that important innovations such as the African Court hand down decisions that can have a direct impact on the protection of human and people’s rights within African countries.
Furthermore, foundations are moving beyond support for traditional first-generation rights and providing funding for advocacy and interventions around second-generation rights such as the rights to health, gender equality, and land. This nevertheless remains an under-developed area, in part because of the difficulty of holding governments to account for delivering what are essentially development rights.
Environment: As highlighted earlier in this section, the environment accounts for the highest volume of international foundation grant-making after health, and alongside education. Within this field, agriculture receives consistent and significant support. A number of agriculture-focused continental think tanks are profiled in this report, including ANAFE (p. 202), ASARECA (p. 213), AFORNET (p. 195) and FARM-AFRICA (p. 233). The G8 interest in promoting biotechnology in African agriculture also means more and more bilateral and multilateral funding is likely to flow to this sub-theme.
However, with foundations such as Rockefeller and Gates throwing their full support behind the Green Revolution via AGRA, dissenting voices—including civic actors concerned that aspects of biotechnology such as GMOs will have detrimental effects on Africa’s biodiversity—should not look to these foundations to support their advocacy and awareness-raising efforts. Again, on IPRs, foundations may find themselves in a conflict of interest between driving ‘Big Push’ approaches that favor multinational corporations and protecting the rights of developing countries and communities. This concern also applies to climate change (an issue on which few organizations focus), water, and environmental governance, among other areas.
Population: There is a historical trend of funding for population programs at a regional level. Indeed, the majority of organizations working on population or related issues—such as the Centre for African Family Studies (CAFS, see profile on p. 288) and the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC, p. 286) were established by U.S. foundations that pioneered the development of the population and reproductive health field. Other major actors in the field, such as the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF, p. 283) and the Association for the Promotion of Traditional Medicine (PROMETRA, p. 293) have also enjoyed long-standing partnerships with U.S. foundations.
However, a theme that once attracted significant private foundation support over the years now appears to be a candidate for divestiture. The Rockefeller Foundation, which was pivotal in the establishment in a number of the organizations profiled in this survey, made a policy decision in 2001 to cease support to population-focused CSOs in favor of new approaches. At a time when Africa faces onerous demographic and related population challenges (as discussed in the Thematic Overview), the institutional architecture for the promotion and implementation of population policies is in danger of collapse. This could have serious consequences on population-focused organizations, at a time when the AU is only now beginning to take leadership on the issue.
Emerging African Philanthropy
The Africa Grant-Makers Affinity Group (AGAG) attests to the sustained focus among private foundations on region-wide approaches in Africa. Yet of the 30 or more foundations registered as members of AGAG, only one focuses exclusively on Africa. This clearly indicates that African philanthropy is in its formative stages, a reality borne out by the fact that the preferred destination for U.S. foundation capital is European grant-making institutions.
Nevertheless, a number of African grant-makers—albeit dependent for resources on sources outside Africa—are beginning to carve out space and provide funding, particularly to continental CSOs. A cross-section leading African funders is reviewed briefly below.
TrustAfrica: The Ford Foundation was instrumental in the birth of TrustAfrica, especially at a time when many donors were pulling out of Africa in 2001. Ford wanted to signal its long-term commitment to Africa, as well as increase the level of resources committed to the continent . TrustAfrica seeks to strengthen African initiatives that address difficult challenges confronting Africa. Its critical areas of focus are resolving conflicts and securing peace; promoting inclusive policies on citizenship and identity; and advancing economic integration. It works principally through collaboration and partnership with like-minded institutions and donors, and as a catalyst and convener it is committed to generating and testing new ideas . TrustAfrica also gives small capacity-building grants to help promote sound management, transparent governance, effective communication, and sustainable results among NGOs in Africa.
African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF): Based in Harare, Zimbabwe, ACBF is an independent capacity-building institution established in 1991 through the collaborative efforts of three multilateral institutions—the African Development Bank (AfDB), World Bank, and United Nations Development Program (UNDP)—together with African governments and bilateral donors. It affords African countries a significant opportunity to rethink the effectiveness of external technical assistance vis-à-vis the building of indigenous capacity. ACBF, which initially focused on economic policy making, now aims to build African capacity across the board. Its areas of coverage now include economic policy analysis and management; financial management and accountability; strengthening and monitoring of national statistics; public administration and management; strengthening the capacity for policy analysis capacity among national parliaments; and professionalizing the voices of the private sector and civil society. ACBF using three funding mechanisms: direct funding, co-financing, and parallel funding. It also provides technical and advisory assistance project beneficiaries at several levels in the project management cycle.
African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF): A fundraising and grant-making initiative set up to support the African Women’s movement, AWDF was established in 2000. It explicitly sets out to build institutional capacity and support program development as key strategies toward women’s empowerment. It works in six thematic areas: women’s human rights; political participation; peace-building; health and reproductive rights; economic empowerment; and HIV/AIDS. Its philanthropic goals include investing in the efforts of African women engaged in innovative efforts to develop their communities; increasing the amount of resources available to women's organizations and projects in Africa; strengthening the capacity and infrastructure of women’s organizations; advocating with other donors and policy makers for resources for African women; and establishing alliances and building relationships with other grant-making institutions within and outside Africa, individual donors and organizations committed to promoting and protecting women’s rights. From the time it began grant-making in October 2001 to November 2006, AWDF awarded grants worth nearly US$5 million to 386 women’s organizations in 40 African countries. Grants range from US$1,000 to US$40,000, with grants of US$20,000 or more going only to organizations with a regional focus.
Southern Africa Trust (SAT): An independent, regional, nonprofit agency registered in South Africa and dedicated to strengthening civil society, SAT provides grants to CSOs as one of its five core strategies. Others include capacity building; policy dialogue; evidence-based advocacy; and creating an enabling environment. SAT’s vision is for poverty eradication policies and strategies across the region to work, and it aims to help ensure the poor to have a better say in shaping policies to overcome poverty in Southern Africa. Although its focus is sub-regional, SAT is a firm believer in regional approaches and is investing significant resources in engaging with the Pan-African Parliament, NEPAD, and the APRM—all of which, like SAT, are located in Midrand.
What has clearly emerged from the above analysis is that although regional initiatives in Africa are firmly on the radar screen of foundations, there is competition for resources and growing demands for improved accountability and stronger impact. Furthermore, it is unlikely that U.S. private foundations will be inclined to commit to long term funding of continental organizations. By endowing organizations such as TrustAfrica and AWDF, private foundations have already begun to point the way to the future. Over the next 10 to 15 years, therefore, African philanthropy will continue to grow, as other donors realize that registering sustained impact in Africa will not be possible without ownership of the grant-making agenda by African organizations.
As a result, and given the commitment of existing African grant-makers to regional approaches, the continental field is likely to grow exponentially in the coming years. However, and to survive in the knowledge economy of the 21st century, organizations working in this space must also become more innovative and entrepreneurial in their ways of working, as those unable to adapt will surely die. Among other things this will entail much greater dexterity, more consistent networking, less fixed structures, and lower overheads. The emergence of new foundations (such as the Google Foundation and other “dot-coms”) that emphasize information and knowledge management speaks to the critical need for AROs and CSOs alike to recognize that they are primarily in the knowledge business and to act accordingly.
- I. Executive Summary
- II. Introduction
- III. Thematic Overview
- IV. Donor Support to AROs and CSOs
- V. Gaps and Opportunities
- VI. Conclusions and Recommendations