More Than Money
Issue #37

Money and Community

Table of Contents

“Bang for the Buck”

Learning from the Experts
Studying Philanthropy in Indigenous Cultures

What can 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.

How 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."

These are preliminary findings from a new research project under way at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business in South Africa.

Researchers 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.

Little 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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