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Introducing the African Centre on Philanthropy and Social Investment

Date: 17 Jan 2019


USA event hosted by the Carnegie Corporation of New York




3:30     Arrivals

3:45     Welcome remarks

Representative of Carnegie Corporation of New York

3:50     Keynote address: Why Teaching and Researching Philanthropy in Africa Matters

Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of the Witwatersrand

4:00    Panel discussion: What Can African Centers for the Study of Philanthropy Contribute to the Future of Philanthropy in Africa?


Bhekinkosi Moyo, Director, Africa Centre for Philanthropy and Social Investment

Kathleen McCarthy, Director, Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, CUNY

Neal Hegarty, Vice President of Programs, C.S. Mott Foundation

Moderator: Niamani Mutima, Executive Director, Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group

4:30   Discussion and closing remarks

4:55     Closing remarks



Close to twenty years ago, a group of African foundations started talking about the need to create a platform that would aggregate African voices on philanthropy as well as be a network for peer learning and collective advocacy. In 2009, the African Philanthropy Network (APN) was born in Accra-Ghana. It was initially called the Africa Grant Makers Network (AGN) and later transformed to APN three years later. Among the many aspirations, this community of foundations hoped that the African continent could generate its own knowledge, advocate for the promotion and practice of philanthropy as well as celebrate different forms of philanthropy across the continent.

The idea of researching and teaching philanthropy in Africa resonated with many practitioners, most of whom were not trained in philanthropy. There was, therefore, no doubt among the members of APN that there was a need to link the world of practice in philanthropy with academia and research institutions. It was therefore not a surprise that in 2014, discussions started between the Southern Africa Trust-a leading and founding member of APN and different stakeholders on the need to create a Chair in African Philanthropy. These consultations produced a collaboration between the University of the Witwatersrand and the Southern Africa Trust in establishing the first Chair in Philanthropy in Africa.

From the very beginning, the university leadership supported the idea but also encouraged the involvement of practitioners in designing the programmes of the Chair. This is why both the research agenda and the Master of Management in African Philanthropy curriculum were designed through a consultative process that included researchers, think tanks, university academics, business schools, foundations, NGOs and private sector practitioners. The idea of a Chair in African Philanthropy has since been revisited with the view to creating a Centre that would house the Chair and many other initiatives.


About the Centre

The Centre is located at the Wits Business School in Johannesburg. The Centre currently has a Director, an Honorary Professor, and a Visiting Researcher. In addition, there are 5 associate researchers who are currently undertaking research for the Centre. The Development and Fundraising Office (DFO) has also seconded one staff member to work with the Centre.

The Centre is finalizing recruitment for a Programmes Manager. Further, an International Board of Advisors was put in place to support the Centre in strategy, policy and advisory functions. Additionally, there is an international editorial board to assist with the development and operations of the Centre’s Journal. Because, the Centre is based at the Business School, its functions are within the confines of the school and as such there are services that the Centre enjoys.

Among these services, are

  1. Faculty that comprises many leading academics and researchers
  2. State of the art information technology
  3. Facilities and administration

There are also other centres at the school such as the Case Studies Centre, that are complementary. There are four main pillars of the Centre.

These are:

  1. Academic Programmes
  2. Research and Knowledge Sharing
  3. Community Outreach
  4. Measurement and Impact.

Academic Programmes

The Centre offers a variety of post-graduate degrees by coursework and research. The Master of Management in African Philanthropy is a one-year full-time degree by coursework. The same degree can be obtained through part-time studies in two years. The university has not started teaching this course yet because it is still awaiting accreditation by the Council on Higher Education.

The Master of Management by Research is a one year course full-time and does not involve coursework. A provision is also made for part-time students who need to complete in two years. The first intake was done in November 2018 and the first set of students will register at the beginning of 2019. The Centre has also admitted doctoral students in philanthropy. In addition to doctoral and MM programmes, the Centre also offers PhD Workshops and executive courses.

Research and Knowledge Sharing

The Centre developed a comprehensive research agenda which is currently under implementation. Currently, six research projects are underway in the areas that include community philanthropy, corporate social investment, social justice and movement building, philanthropic flows as well as the size and scope of philanthropy. Not only will this research close the gap that exists but it will also serve as material for teaching. To strengthen this area, the Centre also offers research fellowships, training and an annual conference and philanthropy institute. Further, the first issue of the Centre’s Journal – The International Review of Philanthropy and Social Investment will be published in mid-2019.

Community Outreach

The Centre also strives to link practitioners in the private and nonprofit sector with academia. In this regard, the Centre holds an annual philanthropy conference, a philanthropy summer institute, lectures and also offers fellowships to industry and civil society leaders to reflect on their experiences.

Measurement and Impact

One of the modules of the MM Course is on the measurement and impact of philanthropy and social investment. Beyond this, the Centre aspires to create frameworks and mechanisms for measuring impact. This area is still under development.


About the Event

There is only one centre for philanthropy in Africa at the American University in Cairo. This centre focuses on research. The Africa Centre on Philanthropy and Social Investment is therefore unique in that it is the only one in Africa that will conduct research but also offer degree courses. It is a unique opportunity for WBS and the entire Wits community to offer something lacking in the market, draw lessons from others globally who have done this already as well as develop new leaders and academics in the field of philanthropy. In designing the Centre, there was a lot of learning from centres in the USA and Europe.

The Centre has also received most of its funding from American foundations. It is therefore not surprising that in introducing the work of the Centre, we would hold events in those places where we have had support, and where we are likely to create linkages with the academy, non-profits, private sector, foundations and other interested stakeholders. The Carnegie Corporation of New York provided seed funding for the development of a cohort of researchers on African philanthropy and continues to also play leading roles in higher education and philanthropy spaces. It is, therefore, befitting that the introduction of the Centre to the USA be hosted by the Corporation with support from other institutions such as the Ford Foundation, Charles Stewart Foundation and the African Grant Makers Affinity Group.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]The main objectives of this event are:

  1. To introduce the Centre and its programmes as well as provide updates to a diverse set of actors in the philanthropy, higher education and research community.
  2. Create linkages between the Centre, its programmes and USA based actors, in particular academics, researchers, students and practitioners.
  3. Mobilise support for the Centre and its work across Africa.
  4. Build a community of friends for the Centre.

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mott foundation

The Charles mott foundation

An automotive pioneer, philanthropist, and leader in the community, Charles Stewart Mott cared about innovation, fairness, and communities. By working toward a world where each individual’s quality of life is connected to the well-being of the community, both locally and globally, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation continues this legacy.

A founding funder of the Centre, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation supported the establishment of the Chair and continues to support our programmes.

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