Learning from the Experts
Studying Philanthropy in Indigenous Cultures
we learn about philanthropy from indigenous people? For one
thing, money is not necessarily the most important donation
we can make. For another, moral support may be just as valuable
a donation as volunteer time.
Can I Help?
According to Susan Wilkinson- Maposa, director of
the Building Community Philanthropy Project in South
Africa, "Based on the preliminary data collected at
the community level, we are seeing many forms of help
emerging that go beyond money. In addition to volunteer
time, in some contexts we see moral support emerging
as a major form of help. A preliminary message may
be that 'throwing money at the problem' (i.e., the
default position of most developmental intervention)
is not necessarily the solution or what people value
most in terms of help."
are preliminary findings from a new research project under
way at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business
in South Africa.
at the Building Community Philanthropy Project at the Southern
Africa-United States Centre for Leadership and Public Values
are studying indigenous models of community giving and support.
The project aims to enhance our understanding of community
philanthropy; that is, the act of individual citizens contributing
money and goods-or volunteering time and skills-to promote
others' well-being or to better their community. "Community
philanthropy is part of the ordinary way of doing things
in southern Africa. We celebrate it as part of our humanity,"
says Max Legodi, community foundations manager of Southern
Africa Grantmakers' Association in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The project is focusing on four southern African countries:
Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
is currently known about how resource-limited communities,
with little or no government or donor support, mobilize
and use internal resources for their survival and development.
The project expects to highlight successful models in the
hope that the findings will help corporations and development
agencies understand how low-wealth communities use their
own resources. An understanding of what makes indigenous
models of philanthropy successful can help policy makers
create social policies and programs that build on practices
that are already being used successfully by lowwealth communities.
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