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Groundbreaking Research Reveals Changes in Funding for Africa

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New report reveals foundation funding for Africa increased by 400% over past decade

Washington, D.C —November 18, 2015. A partnership between Foundation Center and the Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group (AGAG) has produced the first-ever overview of foundation funding specifically for continental Africa. According to new research released today by the two organizations, foundation grants targeting Africa increased more than 400%, from $288.8 million in 2002 to nearly $1.5 billion in 2012. The number of grants also increased from 1,380 to 1,965.

U.S. Foundation Funding for Africa examines changes in funding over a decade and provides a detailed portrait of giving in 2012. It compares differences in funding for organizations headquartered in Africa and funding for activities focused on Africa implemented by organizations headquartered outside of Africa. The report is based upon an analysis of Foundation Center’s FC 1000 annual data sets, which include grants of $10,000 or more given by 1,000 of the largest U. S. independent, corporate, community and grantmaking operating foundations. The FC 1000 sets account for more than 75% of all international funding by U.S. foundations.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation accounted for most of the increase in funding for Africa over the past decade. The foundation’s giving jumped from $69.1 million in 2002 to over $1 billion in 2012. The Gates Foundation ranked as the largest funder for Africa in 2012, followed by the Ford ($60.3 million), Rockefeller ($26.6 million), and Open Society foundations ($24.7 million). However, the Gates Foundation was not the only source of increased support. Excluding Gates, funding for Africa by other foundations increased more than 90%, from $219.7 million to $422.1 million, during this period.

Among organizations receiving 2012 Africa-focused foundation funding, 12 of the top 15 by grant dollars received were headquartered outside of Africa, led by the World Health Organization. About 26% of foundation funding for Africa went directly to organizations headquartered in 36 of the 54 African countries. Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, and Senegal ranked among the top five by foundation dollars received. Over the past decade, the share of overall Africa-focused foundation funding going directly to organizations headquartered in Africa has declined. Nonetheless, actual foundation grant dollars going directly to organizations headquartered in Africa have increased.

In 2012 health received the most funding, with the Gates Foundation accounting for almost 90% of the total. Excluding the Gates Foundation, international development and relief received the most funding (29%), followed by health (22%) and education (11%). Most funding for Africa supported specific programs and projects (91%). More then one-third of all funding and one-quarter of all grants were for activities targeting youth and children.

“This report provides an overview of how trends have changed over time that has been missing from our understanding of funding specifically for Africa,” said Niamani Mutima, executive director of AGAG. “Given the size and complexity of the continent and the diversity of funders, this research is only the beginning of what we hope will be more examination of philanthropy’s interest in Africa. Hopefully it will motivate dialogue among all stakeholders in support of making philanthropy more meaningful, effective, and responsive. Better data on funding for Africa can encourage new funders, help identify gaps, promote coordination and do more of what is making a difference.”

“A clear portrait of the funding landscape is essential for any foundation seeking to have an impact in Africa,” noted Steven Lawrence, Director of Research at Foundation Center and the report’s principal author. “This report helps to move the field beyond anecdote and provides a benchmark for tracking how funding for Africa will evolve in coming years.”