Building Responsive Community Philanthropy

Building Responsive Community Philanthropy

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

What comes to mind when you hear these phrases; giving for change, shift the power, community philanthropy, local giving, delocalisation of aid? To some people, these all fall under the same umbrella while to others, they should be treated as separate entities.  

For many years now, the African continent has engaged in activities of giving in diverse ways; through funeral donations, crisis and disaster responses and many others. Conversations continue to emerge on how these can be undertaken more intentionally to propel social change as well as a change in power dynamics.  

In this regard, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), in partnership with STAR Ghana, organised a Giving for Change learning and reflection workshop which took place at Alisa Hotel, Accra, Ghana from 10 – 16 July 2022. This annual event, which is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, brought together 50 partners from Africa, Asia and South America, who shared their various experiences, networked and engaged in discussions around building better communities.   

After 18 months of intensive programmatic work, Giving for Change partners convened to discuss how they could work together to advance community philanthropy across the globe, create a space for emerging innovations and document best practices and lessons learnt.

This programme is a spread of different actors within the development space, re-inventing how we are doing philanthropy and seeing how best we can connect practices to promoting philanthropy,” stated Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Head, Knowledge Management Unit, WACSI. 

In his interview, the Executive Director of STAR Ghana Foundation, Alhadji Ibrahim Tanko outlined the lessons they had learnt from the project inception till present. He disclosed the fact that there was a high level of mistrust between individuals and organisations and most individuals only donate when they strongly believe in the cause. “The manner in which the issue is packaged determines the level of giving”, he stated. There was therefore a need to address problem-specific donations when tackling community giving. 

Secondly, CSOs are seen as organisations with existing resources. This mindset hindered a giving attitude and pushed people to donating more to other more trusted organisations. For example, people prefer to donate to the media than to these organisations due to observed good media practices. 

Regarding the challenges, Mr. Tanko identified underdeveloped online donation platforms and the inability of the government to create an enabling environment that fosters giving. 

You can’t produce good results from flawed structures,” Jenny Hodgson, Executive Director and Founder, Global Fund for Community Foundations. 

When asked to mention what they were leaving behind and what they hoped to gain, participants indicated that they were leaving behind pessimism, the spirit and practice of working in silos, the fact that INGOs will shift power and project-oriented thinking. 

They hoped to gain knowledge and understanding of how CoPs are working in-country, their constraints, structures, and successes, different approaches in raising local resources within different communities, diverse cultural implementation strategies as well as effective tools for systematic change. 

Day two of the event involved group discussions where participants had breakout sessions. Within their various groups, participants discussed what innovative practices they wanted to try, what they will do more and less of and what they will end. The group discussions were centered around M&E, accountability, diversity and inclusion, language, and communities of practice.  

Some very pertinent questions were raised during these group discussions: 

  • What are the things that need to be reported, based on what is already being reported? 
  • How do we develop the constituencies we need to develop the society we want? 
  • Are we shifting our own power? 
  • How do we ensure that GfC is institutionalised in organisations so that it is embedded in their strategic plans? 
  • Do our values and driving principles enable us to stay on track with the project objectives? 
  • How do we support communities in identifying their needs? 
  • How do we engage in issue-based and country-based learning? 

Based on the discussions of days one and two, participants identified the key points that needed to be addressed more elaborately and these were used as the topics of discussion for day three. Group discussions were therefore focused on diving into communities of practice, participatory grant making, online crowdfunding and moving away from capacity building towards local potential for development. 

The sessions were truly engaging, and participants were very analytical and innovative in their discussions and presentations. The evolution of local philanthropy from the 90’s to present date was traced and representatives from different organisations were able to present their experiences and lessons learnt in relation to philanthropy from creation to present. They delineated their challenges and successes and provided a platform for others to duplicate. Some organisations had gone as far as composing songs on giving for change and local philanthropy.  



The event ended with a cultural night where the different countries were represented in their beautiful traditional regalia, with each explaining the significance of their outfit. This was an expression of the fact that, though we all may have different values and cultures, it is more important to focus on our similarities. In this case, it means focusing on developing better communities. Participants expressed their gratitude and promised to put into practice the lessons learnt within their respective organisations. 

One key take-away message from this event was the fact that capacity building is still very relevant but there is a need for a paradigm shift where communities themselves identify their needs. This brings about more ownership and better progress. If we therefore need to shift the power, the communities must be at the forefront. 



Leave your comments


Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.