Local agency and power in philanthropy and development

PSJP, the Ford Foundation Office for Southern Africa, and the Mott Foundation (South Africa) are exploring the themes of local agency and power in philanthropy and development through a series of conversations with practitioners in the field.

We are sharing the convening reports from each of the conversations here in order to further engagement around these themes.

The first convening entitled ‘What alternative models of development and philanthropy do we need to build local agency and power?’  brought together 37 individuals from the philanthropy and civil society space was organised in June 2018 in Johannesburg. The purpose of the convening was to (i) reflect on the limitations of mainstream development aid and philanthropy in addressing the power structures that perpetuate poverty, marginalisation and violence and (ii) discuss alternative models/approaches in development and philanthropy that enable local agency and challenge existing power dynamics – focusing both on what exists as well as what needs to change. This discussion, which spanned just half a day, was the first in what is hoped to be a series of conversations exploring this topic in more detail.

The second conversation was organised in September 2018 in Johannesburg entitled ‘Philanthropy, Local Agency and Power: Alternative Strategies and Approaches’ and convened 30 participants working in the civil society and philanthropy sectors – including funders, activists, and critical thinkers. The objectives were to reflect on the limitations of existing philanthropic practice in enabling local agency and power in South Africa, share experiences of interacting with philanthropy, both positive and negative, and distil lessons that could point towards alternative ways of working. The convening also explored and interrogated the assumptions and ideas underlying some alternative strategies and ways of working that emerge in conversation, and which could provide lessons for consideration. It sought to establish the appetite for ongoing engagements to learn together and to advocate for and popularise emerging and effective philanthropic strategies and models that enable local agency and power.

For more information and/or to share your thoughts and ideas on these reports contact info@psjp.org