When we discuss philanthropy within the African continent, too often the focus is on the wealthiest class of Africans and the large contributions they can make. However, what matters more when it comes to charitable giving is the potential for billions of aggregate dollars from millions of small givers.
Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index estimates that if Africa’s middle-class joined the rest of the world’s middle classes to give 0.5 per cent of their spending, the continent and the rest of the world would have $319 billion in resources for civil society organizations annually by 2030.
Indeed, it is the African diaspora and Africa’s middle-class that are the missing pieces needed to transform philanthropy in Africa and unlock the path towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Philanthropy in Africa needs to catch up with the role that small donations play in transforming our communities. We have too-quickly accepted that philanthropy must be channeled via specific kinds of institutional arrangements or particular organizations.
Yet, philanthropy represents a voluntary donation, and every day, millions of migrants and middle-class families provide funds directly to their family, relatives and acquaintances voluntarily, and thus, are engaging in a form of philanthropy.
In most instances, middle-class philanthropy happens under the radar, unnoticed or unidentifiable. So are remittances made through informal channels that reach communities across the continent.
Those who send funds to support family and friends do not count themselves as benefactors, yet their contribution plays a significant role in transforming their principal recipients and extended networks.