• Friday, June 14, 2024
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From handouts to handshakes: Can sustainable philanthropy bridge Nigeria’s inequality gap?


Nigerians are big charity givers but most of this giving is spontaneous and without sustainable, data-driven strategies, experts at the second quarterly dialogues on philanthropy in Nigeria organised by the Ford Foundation and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Nigeria, Monday, said.

Themed “Sustainable Philanthropy: An Urgent Economic Crises Intervention in Nigeria,” the conversation stressed the need to move from generosity and charity to social justice and dignity.

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Sustainable philanthropy is a concept that encompasses the alignment of philanthropy activities with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the integration of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria in philanthropic decision-making and operations, a promotion of long-term and systemic change through philanthropic interventions.

From individual donors, to corporate or faith-based organisational giving and structured philanthropic foundations operations, Nigeria’s philanthropy ecosystem is fragmented and requires coordination. The big elephant in the room is how to facilitate sustainable philanthropy in Nigeria, such that it becomes a wealth creation vehicle.

“Nigerians are long on giving but short on strategy. Philanthropy requires structure. This is why Ford Foundation has continued to thrive,” Esiri Agbeyi, partner, PwC, said. “Organisations are pulling back from giving to Africa because of a lack of structure for strategic giving.”

According to Olusegun Zachaeus, partner, PwC, some of the challenges stunting sustainable philanthropy in Nigeria include, funding and investment, inefficient use of resources, lack of collaboration, lack of transparency and accountability. Others are, limited community engagement, short term focus, legal and political policies.

The corresponding calls to action include innovative funding to attract more capital for philanthropy, use of data for efficient allocation of resources, effective collaboration among stakeholders, and robust monitoring and evaluation framework. Other solutions include, active community engagement, alignment with sustainable development goals and legal reforms.

Responding to a question that requested the motivation behind Ford Foundation’s philanthropy, Darren Walker, president, Ford Foundation, said “Every person deserves to live in dignity. Hence Ford Foundation is committed to dismantling social systems that perpetuate inequalities along gender, and social class lines.”

Walker said the Foundation was founded as an international philanthropy to promote good governance and democracy across the world.

“Ego and logo sometimes get in the way of developing sustainable philanthropy. This is why it is important to rather endow a foundation,” Walker added.

Hope is the oxygen of democracy he reiterated. No nation can afford to have a large hopeless population. This reinforces the need to move from charity to sustainable philanthropy which also means moving from generosity, to social justice and dignity.

Nigeria as a country did not learn much from covid-19 because learning points build data points and data drive sustainable decision-making. At the peak of the pandemic, make-shift structures were built to accommodate those who had contracted the virus because the hospitals were unable to do so. Four years later, one cannot point to new primary health centres that have been built as part of the learning points.

“We need to move from feel-good to human-centred philanthropy. We have to take impact assessment, monitoring and evaluation seriously,” Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, a social entrepreneur who represented the Victims Support Fund, said at the panel session. “We have to take equitable allocation of resources seriously in this country.”

Similarly, Foluke Ademokun, executive director, Ajoke Aiyisat Afolabi Foundation, emphasised the need for monitoring and evaluation as well as active community engagement.

Ademokun said, “We work with communities as active partners not mere passive beneficiaries.”

Philanthropy has to breed wealth creation to be sustainable.

Some of the recommendations from the panelists included a conscious alignment of philanthropy operations with the SDGs. A robust collaboration among local and international philanthropy to promote knowledge and technology transfers. This also speaks to capacity building in local philanthropy organisations.

The creation of a harmonised database was also emphasised, that is, a central national database that philanthropic institutions could leverage to make data-driven decisions and allocate resources effectively. A synergy among government and philanthropy organisations gave birth to the Urban Institute in the United States of America. This is possible in Nigeria.

Furthermore, it is important to measure impact and pursue relevant legal reforms to drive sustainable philanthropy in Nigeria.

In her closing remarks, ChiChi Aniagolu, regional director, West Africa, Ford Foundation said the Foundation is willing and able to train leaders of local philanthropy organisations and called for expressions of interest. She announced a match funding mechanism that supports local impact organisations with 50 per cent funding.