A two-day Ghana Philanthropy Conference (GPC) has ended in Accra with a call on the government of Ghana to create an enabling environment that will facilitate philanthropic culture in the country.
Conference participants noted that though philanthropy is a potent force in shaping a more equitable and sustainable future, the current state of formal philanthropy in Ghana is marked by underdevelopment and a heavy reliance on external funding, hence, the need to create robust systems for philanthropy in the state.
STAR Ghana Foundation put the conference together in collaboration with the University of Ghana’s Centre for Social Policy Studies (UG- CSPS), Ghana Philanthropy Forum, West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), Ghana Civil Society Platform on SDGs, and Philanthropy Ghana.
The summit was held on the theme, “Philanthropy for Sustainable Development: Opportunities, Challenges, and Future,” and served as a platform for dialogue on key issues facing the sector, promoting both horizontal and vertical networking, and facilitating coordinated actions on critical matters.
In an opening address, the Executive Director of STAR Ghana Foundation, Alhaji Amidu Ibrahim-Tanko, highlighted the power of collective action and the impact of philanthropy on people’s lives.
Mr Ibarahim Tanko staed that the emergence of philanthropy in Ghana represents a transformative societal shift, reflecting the nation’s growing economic stability and a deep-rooted sense of communal responsibility.
According to him, traditional communal practices like ‘susu’ and ‘nsawamfo’ (community self-help groups) have long exemplified Ghanaian mutual aid systems. However, in recent years, a dynamic wave of modern philanthropy has surged across the country.
This change, he maintained, could be attributed to the expanding middle class, increased private sector involvement, and a heightened awareness of social issues. He added that in search of sustainability of development, many civil society organizations are exploring philanthropy as a strategy for leveraging ownership and local investment into addressing social issues.
The annual Ghana Philanthropy Conference, he indicated, was one of such initiatives proposed to increase the profile of philanthropy at the national level and serve as a platform for uniting actors and mobilizing policy support for it to thrive.
In her keynote address Dr. Stigmata Tenga, Executive Director of the Africa Philanthropy Network (APN) stated that Ghana could utilise philanthropy as a development strategy.
Dr. Tenga highlighted the opportunities that philanthropy presents in its various forms and manifestations, emphasising its responsiveness to community voices and its capacity to empower people to drive their own development.
She said philanthropy is crucial in harnessing development while emphasising that it could be leveraged to contribute to global, regional, and local development.
On his part, His Excellency, Mr. Jeroen Verheul, Ambassador of the Royal Netherlands Embassy, who delivered a solidarity message, underscored the importance of active citizenship and philanthropy in contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
At the end of the two-day conference, participants issued a communiqué emphasizing the importance of philanthropy
Below is the Communiqué:
Communiqué issued at the end of the Ghana Philanthropy Conference held at the Best Western Premier Hotel, Accra from 21 st to 22nd November 2023.
The Ghana Philanthropy Conference (GPC) is a recurring gathering that assembles stakeholders from diverse sectors of Ghana’s philanthropic community. This conference serves as a platform for dialogue on key issues facing the sector, promoting both horizontal and vertical networking, and facilitating coordinated actions on critical matters.
The 2023 edition of the GPC was successfully hosted at the Best Western Premier Hotel in Accra from the 21 st to the 22nd of November 2023. The summit revolved around the theme, “Philanthropy for Sustainable Development: Opportunities, Challenges, and Future.” The conference was convened by the STAR Ghana Foundation in collaboration with the University of Ghana’s Centre for Social Policy Studies (UG- CSPS), Ghana Philanthropy Forum, West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), Ghana Civil Society Platform on SDGs, and Philanthropy Ghana. Alhaji Amidu Ibrahim-Tanko, the Executive Director of STAR Ghana Foundation, opened the conference with remarks, highlighting the power of collective action and the impact of philanthropy on people’s lives.
His Excellency, Mr. Jeroen Verheul, Ambassador of the Royal Netherlands Embassy, delivered a solidarity message. Ambassador Verheul underscored the importance of active citizenship and philanthropy in contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The keynote speaker for the occasion was Dr. Stigmata Tenga, Executive Director of the Africa Philanthropy Network (APN), an accomplished development 3 practitioner and social anthropologist. Her address focused on how Ghana can utilise philanthropy as a development strategy. Dr. Tenga highlighted the opportunities that philanthropy presents in its various forms and manifestations, emphasising its responsiveness to community voices and its capacity to empower people to drive their own development.
The participants of the Ghana Philanthropy Conference convened to address the crucial need for collaboration and advocacy of philanthropic ideals. Together, we undertook a collective exploration of the various dimensions of philanthropy, with the aim of establishing a common understanding of its essence and purpose within the context of Ghana.
Acknowledging that philanthropy, fundamentally, is the act of giving to promote social good and is deeply ingrained in Ghanaian society,
we recognised its significant potentials to foster the creation of sustainable and prosperous communities.
We affirmed that communities are not passive recipients but active contributors with valuable knowledge and assets that should be acknowledged and developed.
Considering the diverse forms of philanthropy, such as community-driven initiatives, corporate social responsibility, and socially sustainable business practices, we noted their opportunities for a strategic amalgamation. These various 4 philanthropic forms, we believe, can collectively address systemic factors perpetuating exclusion.
Emphasising social justice principles, we highlighted the dimensions and forms of philanthropy (e.g. Indigenous, Corporate, and Emerging forms including Social Enterprises and Venture Capital) as a catalyst for positive change in Ghana. At the end of the two-day conference, the participants reiterated that philanthropy, in its diverse forms, is a potent force in shaping a more equitable and sustainable future.
Creating Formal Systems and Structure for Philanthropy in Ghana
The current state of formal philanthropy in Ghana is marked by underdevelopment and a heavy reliance on external funding. To unlock its potentials, it is recommended that the government creates an enabling environment that will facilitate philanthropic culture in Ghana.
Incentivising Philanthropy through a Collaborative Regulatory Framework
To encourage philanthropy and local resource mobilisation, it is recommended that the Government of Ghana collaborates with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to establish an incentive-based regulatory process. This innovative approach, as opposed to traditional command-and-control mechanisms, ensures a dynamic and mutually beneficial system, encouraging philanthropic activities. The partnership between CSOs and government entities is vital for creating an environment that promotes voluntary contributions toward societal development.
Streamlining Tax Exemptions
To enhance transparency and promote compliance, the process of obtaining tax exemptions in Ghana should be made transparent, streamlined, and easily navigable. Embracing digitisation, aligning with the growing trend of online tax filing, can significantly contribute to efficiency. By simplifying the application process and reducing bureaucracy through digital platforms, the government can foster a conducive environment for philanthropy to thrive.
Encouraging Dialogue for Effective Implementation through Public-Private Collaborations
Establishing a platform for ongoing dialogue and collaboration among CSOs, the government, and the private sector is vital. This tripartite engagement ensures that regulatory frameworks remain adaptable and responsive to the evolving needs of philanthropic organisations and the broader community. Regular consultations can lead to the refinement of regulations, making them more effective, efficient, and aligned with the objectives of fostering philanthropy as a driver of positive social change.
Empowering Stakeholders for Compliance
Investing in capacity building and awareness campaigns is essential to ensure that both CSOs and philanthropists understand regulatory processes. Educating them on the benefits of compliance, incentives application, and the broader impact of their contributions fosters a culture of compliance through informed decision-making. This approach transforms the regulatory framework into a tool for empowering stakeholders and maximising the positive outcomes of philanthropic endeavours.
Engaging the Youth in Philanthropy to Foster a Culture of Giving
To instill a lasting culture of giving, actively involving the youth in philanthropic discussions is crucial. Creating an enabling environment for youth participation ensures their active contribution to shaping philanthropy in Ghana. This approach not only brings fresh perspectives but also cultivates a sense of responsibility and ownership among the younger generation.
Technological Advancements and Philanthropy
Embracing technology, including crowd funding applications and social media platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, plays a pivotal role in bolstering community-based philanthropic efforts. These technological tools create fresh channels for contributions and engagement, democratising philanthropy and fostering shared responsibility and participation.
Philanthropy’s Role in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Considering the challenges in achieving the SDGs, it is recommended to strategically align philanthropic efforts with broader national development objectives. Restructuring business models in Ghana to actively support initiatives contributing to SDG achievement is crucial. This alignment ensures sustainable and impactful contributions toward achieving the SDGs, addressing the financial gap hindering their successful implementation.
Diaspora Engagement in Philanthropy
Engaging the diaspora in philanthropy requires a sustained, long-term approach focused on relationship building. Philanthropic efforts targeting the diaspora should adopt an individualized and customised approach. Understanding the unique preferences, connections, and concerns of individuals within the diaspora community is crucial. Tailoring initiatives that resonate with the specific interests and experiences of the diaspora ensures a more profound and committed engagement, enhancing the effectiveness of philanthropic endeavours. Recognising that diaspora members contribute to causes they have personal connections with is paramount. Philanthropic initiatives should align with the interests and values of the diaspora community, ensuring a more meaningful impact. Moreover, acknowledging the diaspora’s desire to leave a legacy through their contributions to legacy projects can further enhance their engagement, ownership and sense of fulfilment. Acknowledging that contributions from the diaspora extend beyond financial resources is essential. In addition to monetary support, diaspora members often bring valuable skills, networks, and expertise.
Documenting Impact and Advocating for an Enabling Environment
Concerted efforts should be made to document, track and showcase evidence of the tangible impact of philanthropy on sustainable development in Ghana. Additionally, developing policy briefs and advocacy positions is recommended to create an enabling environment for philanthropy, positioning it as a potent force for positive change within the Ghanaian society. These actions aim to propel philanthropy forward and garner support for its role in achieving broader societal goals.
Leveraging on Private Sector Philanthropy for CSOs’ Sustainability
His Excellence Jeroen Verheul, Ambassador of the Royal Netherlands Embassy, delivered a solidarity message that stressed the importance of active citizenship and philanthropy in contributing to the achievement of the SDGs.
The contributions of private sector in Ghana must be leveraged to ensure the sustainability of CSOs.
To achieve this, there must a mutual interest between CSOs and the Private sector. In doing so, CSOs must build accountable governance structures to enhance their legitimacy and credibility and challenge them.
Maximizing Indigenous Philanthropy for Sustainable Development
Indigenous giving is a key dimension of philanthropy in Ghana, but it is largely not documented. There is therefore the need to incorporate indigenous giving into formalized philanthropy work and also, incentivize and recognize grassroots self-help initiatives.
In conclusion, transforming philanthropy in Ghana is both a necessity and an opportunity. Implementing recommended measures, including collaborative regulatory frameworks, and streamlined tax processes, can cultivate a locally driven and vibrant philanthropic landscape. Engaging the youth, the diaspora community and leveraging technology will make philanthropy integral to Ghana’s development agenda. Aligning philanthropy with the Sustainable Development Goals addresses global targets, and advocating for an enabling environment, along with impactful documentation, attracts international support. The pursuit of these recommendations would enable Ghana to customise philanthropic efforts, 9 fostering a culture of giving rooted in national values and contributing significantly to sustainable development.
Ibrahim-Tanko Amidu (Executive Director, STAR Ghana Foundation)
Dr. Stigmata Tenga
(Executive Director, African Philanthropy Network)
By: Mohammed Suleman/Publicagenda.news