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Inyathelo-Kresge Initiatives

Inyathelo worked in partnership with the Kresge Foundation for more than a decade to help develop and bolster the private fundraising efforts of South African universities.

During the  15-year partnership with Inyathelo,  Kresge granted $17.3 million to Inyathelo, to support higher education advancement. This led to  programmes that directly empowered nearly a third of South African universities and other institutions. They forged relationships with major donors and attracted resources to build state-of-the-art facilities, fund bursaries and conduct ground-breaking research.

The first Kresge Special Initiative was implemented between 2006 and 2010. It enabled the University of the Witwatersrand, University of the Western Cape, University of Pretoria, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the Children’s Hospital Trust to increase their private fundraising revenue a massive threefold.

The four universities then mentored another, new group of universities. These signed agreements in December 2012 for a five-year intervention known as the second Kresge-Inyathelo Advancement Initiative. This cohort comprised the Durban University of Technology (DUT), Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of the Free State (UFS).

Kresge allocated each university an initial grant of $150 000. For the next five years, it awarded an annual performance-based bonus grant when particular milestones were achieved. The programme was underpinned by Advancement staff training and development, undertaken by Inyathelo, which included mentoring, leadership retreats and conferences.

Inyathelo also worked alongside universities helping them to develop strategic plans and to set and meet targets. Partnering with the Rhodes University Business School, it developed a week-long, accredited Advancement course. There were over 100 course graduates, not only from universities, but also from a wide variety of non-profit organisations. Selected Inyathelo staff and university representatives attended a sponsored course at the renowned Lily School of Philanthropy at Indiana University in the USA.

Some university success stories:

  • UJ: The biggest fundraising success was the Missing Middle campaign. (This helps students too ’wealthy’ to qualify for National Student Financial Aid Scheme support, but too disadvantaged to afford fees and qualify for commercial bank loans.) The Missing Middle campaign was launched in 2016, with UJ raising R101 million. This grew to R195,7 million in 2017.  

  • DUT: Donor income has grown steadily and the university doubled the number of bursaries based on funds raised by the development office, from 10 in 2017 to 20 in 2018.

  • TUT: Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) quadrupled its donor income in five years to R64,9 million in 2017, grew the number of fundraising and development staff and compiled a huge alumni database of more than 150 000 people. Key achievements included repositioning the Advancement and Partnerships Office (APO) under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor and Principal’s office, and involving Council and other university leadership directly in fundraising initiatives. The APO launched its first TUT Bursary and Scholarship Fund, a platform for alumni to support flagship projects. 

  • UFS: Receipted donations income increased from R38 million in 2013 to R96 million in 2017.  (This increase was also partly due to better tracking systems.) The university met annual targets for increasing income, enhancing leadership’s understanding of Advancement, improving Advancement staff skills, enhancing alumni-university engagement and increasing the alumni and donor database.


Inyathelo’s partnership with Kresge has also resulted in the Annual Survey of Philanthropy in Higher Education (ASPIHE). Information about philanthropic support of local higher education institutions was previously sparse and scattered. Few universities collected comprehensive data on this kind of funding and its costs ‒ least of all made it available to others ‒ and no reliable national perspectives existed.

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