Inyathelo in the Headlines

Philanthropy holds huge potential for African universities - 08 November 2017 -

Universities operate in a changing, challenging environment ‒ and this requires strong leaders who are ready to explore and adopt innovative funding models, with a particular focus on philanthropy.

This is according to Dr Bhekinkosi Moyo, CEO of the Southern African Trust. Dr Moyo was the keynote speaker at the ninth annual Inyathelo-Kresge Foundation leadership retreat, which took place near Stellenbosch last month (19 and 20 October).

The event was held for university vice-chancellors, Advancement directors and philanthropic organisations to debate the changing funding landscape and leadership needs. (Advancement is an integrated approach that goes beyond fund-raising to position an organisation for long-term sustainability.)

“Education is the gateway to creating lasting change in any society,” said Dr Moyo. “Philanthropy has reached a momentous moment in Africa, in how it is treated by universities and also by government. If philanthropy is to contribute to development and academia, we have to invest in it so it’s a source of income and knowledge. It must be treated as a discipline.”

According to the Inyathelo 2016 Annual Survey of Philanthropy in Higher Education, philanthropists donated just over R1.2 billion to 11 South African universities in 2015. This was a massive R515 million higher than recorded for 10 universities in 2013.

Dr Moyo said an increase in individual mega-gifts was a global trend in university philanthropy. “Increasingly, individuals give more than foundations, and this usually has the added advantage of being provided without pre-determined conditions.”

Philanthropists also prefer to give to higher education institutions because universities can absorb and implement large donations; they track results; and tertiary education is a diverse sector.

Dr Moyo noted that government faces many funding challenges of its own and is turning to more nimble non-profit organisations (NPOs) that are funded by philanthropy money, to assist with service delivery.

At the leadership retreat Inyathelo honoured four universities, plus the Children’s Hospital Trust, for their successes achieved through the Inyathelo-Kresge programme.

Inyathelo Programme Director Nazli Abrahams said: “These organisations were selected on the basis of the clear and comprehensive vision that they displayed in their application to the programme. They went on to use the Kresge programme and the opportunities that came with it, to build Advancement practices that have greatly increased giving and capacity in all of the institutions.”

The Children’s Hospital Trust launched a capital campaign for new theatres and raised 95% of the targeted R50 million within seven months. Its direct marketing programme was transformed to embrace digital opportunities and on-line facilities.

The Cape Peninsula University of Technology significantly developed its alumni database and grew funding by 172%. This was achieved while merging the Cape Technikon and the Bellville Technikon into CPUT.

The University of Pretoria overhauled its Department of Institutional Advancement and the Tuks Alumni Office. The Alumni Office developed an enviable alumni database and could create several staff posts.

The University of the Western Cape: Individual giving increased through initiatives such as a highly successful phonathon.

The University of the Witwatersrand joined in 2007, to transform its Advancement initiative and take part in the challenge grant (Kresge rewarded institutions with additional funding if they met funding targets). Wits began an array of capital projects, completing its fundraising for these within two to three years.

Inyathelo also presented a special award to its founder and former executive director, Shelagh Gastrow.

Bill Moses, Education MD of the Kresge Foundation, said: “Shelagh was one of the visionary voices behind the establishment of the Kresge-Inyathelo partnership. Through Inyathelo she forged the conceptual design, development and implementation of the programme which has led to success in fundraising and support for so many South African universities.”

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