South Africa: Power Relationships in Philanthropy

opinion

It is essential for private philanthropy to move away from the old charitable paradigm where non-profit organisations are forced into a state of begging. Begging to be heard, begging to be seen, begging for funds and begging for payment.

The philanthropic sector is extremely diverse. This is reflected in the very broad spectrum of causes funded by private philanthropy, but also in the way philanthropy is practised. There are individuals who believe that as "it is my money", any recipient has to toe a line and do what they are told, while there are others who prefer to remain anonymous and enable the recipient to use the funds as they see best.

There are also many philanthropic foundations that have been established specifically to support particular causes, based on the interests and passions of the founder. These foundations have a particular personality when the founder or his/her family are still alive, but as time passes the foundation is often governed by a board that has no links with the original family.

In some cases, as in the US, these foundations become massive bureaucratic global grantmakers and lose the original ethos of philanthropy. In many ways they become private aid agencies,...

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