By Lydia Maclean, Communications & Fundraising Specialist
As an organisation with a mission to mobilise financial, human and material resources to support African women’s organisations, the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) has provided over 50 million dollars in grants since its inception in 2001.
AWDF is both a grantmaking and fundraising organisation, and therefore straddles two sides of philanthropy. This provides a deeper appreciation of the various forms of philanthropy that exist, especially in Africa where philanthropy is deeply embedded in our culture and traditions, but generally goes under-acknowledged.
CEO Theo Sowa, in an interview with Alliance magazine, made this observation:
“There are lots of different agendas around philanthropy on the continent. Philanthropy has been strong in Africa for a very long time, but it’s not been properly documented or valued. On the one hand, you have the Ibrahims and the Motsepes, high net worth individuals who set up foundations and give large amounts of money. On the other, we have giving by millions of ordinary Africans that comes from solidarity, not necessarily from surplus, so people with very little will still give. Gerry Salole of the European Foundation Centre has this great line that ‘there is no successful African who has not benefited at some point from another African’s philanthropy’. Philanthropy is ingrained in Africa”.
AWDF staff firmly share this belief, and in 2006, initiated a workplace giving scheme which has raised substantial amounts and supported various causes across the continent. In an earlier article on workplace giving, Director of Operations Gertrude Annoh Quarshie refers to it as an “opportunity to take action”. In addition to showing solidarity and inspiring others to give, workplace giving contributes to team building as it creates collective impact.
Over the years, the AWDF Workplace giving fund has supported various organisations and women’s groups in projects including the re-opening of the Ark Shelter of the Ark foundation in Ghana, and donation of materials for a training workshop at the Nsawam female prisons, also in Ghana.
The most recent beneficiary of the AWDF Workplace giving programme is the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, based in South Africa. The Director of Rape Crisis, Kathleen Dey, affirms that “Thanks to this donation we will be able to provide communication support for our work with women during this time of COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa. The fact that this donation comes from your staff’s monthly payroll contribution and that they chose this project to support moves us all very deeply.”
For more information about the AWDF Workplace giving programme, please send an email to [email protected]