Southern Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group: The Role of U.S. Grantmakers in a Changing Region

November 10-12, 1999 Westfields Marriott, Chantilly, Virginia Introduction

Southern Africa has had its share of turmoil and dramatic change. Although South Africa has over the past five years established itself as a shining example of democracy and Mozambique has transformed its economy and government shattered by nearly a decade of civil war, the situation is not as favorable throughout the region.

Peace efforts in Angola have disintegrated; political and human rights are under threat in Zimbabwe; regional armies stepped in to stabilize Lesotho; trade unions and activist groups press for greater democratic rights in Swaziland. Besides the continuing political challenges, the historical social and economic development needs are compounded by an accelerating HIV/AIDS epidemic which threatens to decimate the region.


Private U.S. funders have played a long running and important role in the transformation of the region. The question in the present context, however, is how effective can grantmakers and donors be in this changing environment? Is the political environment conducive to sustainable progress on social and economic needs? What are the prospects for civil society in the region? Will all our efforts be swamped by the AIDS catastrophe? How do we work effectively with regional governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector? How can private funders better leverage their resources and impact?

As part of an on-going series of meetings designed to foster U.S.-Southern Africa independent sectors linkages, the Affinity Group plans to hold a 2-day workshop to examine these pertinent questions and to exchange practical ideas about increasing the collective effectiveness of private U.S. funders in southern Africa. The emphasis will be on real examples of effective grantmaking, program interventions and case studies of private-public collaboration and partnerships, as well as prospects for increasing U.S-southern African linkages.

The workshop will include an opportunity to engage in discussion with resource persons from southern Africa, as well as high level representatives of U.N. agencies, the World Bank, and U.S. government.

Proposed Discussion Topics

  • Southern Africa in the post-Mandela era: Political, Economic and Social Challenges
  • What Lessons Have Private Funders Learned in Southern Africa?
  • Case Studies of Effective Grantmaking
  • Collaborating with Bi-Lateral and International Donor Organizations
  • Investment Driven Grantmaking
  • The Prospects for Civil Society: Examining The Enabling Environment
  • Examining Practical Examples of Public-Private Partnerships
  • Developing Partnerships between funders, government and non-government organizations
  • The Sustainability Conundrum: Indigenous Philanthropy, Endowments
  • The HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Implications and Responses
  • Making the Affinity Group a more Effective Resource


It is anticipated that participants will come up with a viable plan of action for the way forward to effective grantmaking. This will include drawing up a practical outline/timetable for implementing the recommendations reached at the end of the workshop.


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