Community Foundations in Zimbabwe: Analysis of Eleven Case Studies

Across Africa and in Zimbabwe, as communities grow in their giving, a new layer of support structures to support and enhance this type of giving has emerged in the form of Community Foundations. In a quest to highlight and promote horizontal forms of community philanthropy, the SIVIO Institute has been mapping 11 organisations identified as Community Foundations in Zimbabwe.


Very little has been written or documented about peer-to-peer levels of giving and the giving of many-to-many. Often this type of giving is underappreciated and undervalued, yet it plays a significant role in supporting grassroots communities. They are often closer to communities, have a better understanding of the local context and can also quickly respond to immediate needs or crisis. Organised philanthropy and social investment have been practised with little acknowledgment or recognition of indigenous or organic forms of community philanthropy (Wilkinson, Maphosa, Fowler, Oliver-Evans and Mulenga, 2009).

In another study undertaken by SIVIO Institute that looked at the perception of giving by Zimbabweans (2020), we noted that data from our research presents compelling and encouraging evidence on how ordinary Zimbabwe of modest means are actively engaged in giving. The giving under discussion is mostly of small financial gifts to family, extended family, strangers, institutions and also in response to natural disasters. In many instances these gifts are not reported in any official records. There are no official systems to acknowledge and incentivise giving.

Halima Mahomed, has referred to community philanthropy organizations when she commented on the newer wave that she saw as being ‘organic, rooted in context, not wedded to a particular concept – and they don’t tick the boxes of someone else’s notion of community philanthropy’. Broader still is the interpretation of community philanthropy reflected in recent programmes developed by the Aga Khan Foundation, in partnership with USAID, which conceives of community philanthropy as essentially fund development for the strengthening of civil society – an approach that goes much further than investing in local foundations as grantmakers.

As interpretations multiply, so too does the need to take account of the fact that the roots of community philanthropy are multifaceted and multi-cultural in nature, tapping into communal reciprocity that can be both formal and informal.

Given the significant role that they play and that they can play, SIVIO Institute has undertaken a study of organisations that can be classified as Community Foundations in Zimbabwe. In the limited literature that is available on community foundations in Zimbabwe, the most commonly recognised entities that have been looked at and profiled are the Community Foundation of the Western Region of Zimbabwe and Uluntu Community Foundation.

Through this magazine, SIVIO Institute seeks to raise the profile of other organisations we consider as Community Foundations. We feel that it is important to begin to profile and highlight this form of philanthropy to showcase the varied nature of philanthropy and how anyone can engage in philanthropy/giving, and that philanthropy extends beyond just the giving of money.

Through this process, we want to develop a directory of individuals or organisations involved in community philanthropy to identify who is doing what and where, to start creating a community of practice and engagement amongst different practitioners.

Read the magazine here (7MB PDF)

Source: SIVIO Institute

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