Dr Susan Wilkinson Maposa

Dr Susan Wilkinson Maposa is a senior research fellow at WBS. She is the co- author of the research monograph entitled “The poor philanthropist: how and why the poor help each other”. Her research areas include both horizontal and institutionalised community philanthropy in Africa. She has written on giving among “ordinary people”, the poor as well as small and medium enterprises. Additionally, she has conducted research into why donors fund community philanthropy, emergent forms of community philanthropy organisations and narrated the stories of community philanthropy leaders. PhD work developed and validated an instrument to gauge the horizontality of the behaviour of community philanthropy organisations.  In 2017 she completed a fellowship at the Centre for the Study of Philanthropy and Public Good, St. Andrews University, Scotland.  A PhD focusing on community philanthropy complements a degree in gender and development and one in political science.

Dr. Wilkinson Maposa’s academic career is combined with practical advisory work. Professional experience has been acquired within numerous organisations, including UN Women, GTZ, Cowater International, the Graduate School of Business University of Cape Town, The Firelight Foundation and Social Impact. She is currently a senior associate at Social Development Direct – a United Kingdom based consultancy.


Research project

Community Philanthropy Organisations in Africa: What are Trends in Their Resource Mobilisation?

Under the rubric of domestic resource mobilization (DRM), there is increasing attention to, and high expectations about, a growing ability of Africa to finance its own development (Bhushan, Samy and Medu, 2013).  Within this broad narrative it is recognised that a  growing variety of actors are needed make this happen, with private philanthropy becoming a major contributor (Benn, Sangaré and Hos, 2018).  It is argued that such a diversification of giving will include African community-driven initiatives located within the concept of ‘philanthropy’ but no longer functioning as foreign models solely dependent on external private largess (Knight, 2013).  The primary objective of this research is to analyse the extent to which this shift is actually taking place within institutionalised community philanthropy (CP) in Africa.

The research explains how institutionalised community philanthropy is funded in Africa:   What conclusions can be drawn about the status of community philanthropy’s revenue and resource mix (foreign, domestic, monetary and non-monetary)? Furthermore, what policy, strategy and practical pointers might there be for external grant makers dedicated to the development of community philanthropy on the continent?

Using a survey method complemented by key informant interview with selected infrastructure organisations, this research asks dozens of community philanthropy organisations captured in the Community Philanthropy Atlas (Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, 2014) to reflect on their revenue sources.

This research provides a baseline of revenue streams and mixes at a time when funding and giving patterns are shifting. This information will be useful for teaching about how institutionalised philanthropy sustains itself. It will also be of practical help to donors wanting to support indigenous mobilisation for a better understanding of what to do and focus on.



Benn, J., Sangaré, C. and Hos, T. 2018 Private Foundations’ Giving for Development in 2013-2015, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris.

Bhushan, A., Samy, Y. and Medu, K. 2013 Financing the Post-215 Development Agenda: Domestic Resource Mobilization in Africa, North-South Institute, Ottawa.

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. 2014. The Community Foundation Atlas.

Knight, B. 2013. The Case for Community Philanthropy: How the Practice Builds Local Assets, Capacity and Trust – and Why it Matters, Global Fund for Community Foundations, Johannesburg.