Youth and Philanthropy in East Africa

It is patently true to say that the influence the youth have on socio-economic and political development in the East Africa Region has continuously grown over time. Sustainable efforts can no longer ignore the opportunities available in engaging the youth. Though not a new practice, youth philanthropy is a new terminology that describes the effort of young people involved in social change by voluntarily giving their money, time or expertise to better the society.

It is with this backdrop that the Annual Grantmakers Conference sort to provide a platform for participants to explore ways in which other forms of philanthropy can facilitate the transmission values of giving and community engagement to the youth. Learning more about their philanthropic initiatives was also an objective of the discussions.

The breakout session under the theme ‘’Leading from the Front: Enhancing Citizen Participation- Youth and Philanthropy’’, attracted quite an interesting cohort of enthusiastic young participants. The topic of discussion was based on the case study of Volunteer Overseas Services (VSO-Jitolee), an independent organization that actively works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries and one that largely encourages youth volunteerism.

Key issues that came out clear were the importance of involving, educating and consolidating the youth in various development policies. Involving the youth in decision making was considered a key motivator beyond stipends which made them confident, dedicated and satisfied in accomplishing goals of the organizations they represent. Organizations too can play a major role in promoting youth philanthropy by deliberately designing structures within the organization that accommodate the youth and compliment youth leadership. Championing this strategy, discussions continuously affirmed that youth philanthropy focused on a people centered approach which is considered essential in informing development programmes.

With the youth being a viable donor and volunteer constituency, organizations were urged to leverage on this opportunity by utilizing the skills and knowledge offered by the youth especially in resource mobilization, program development, implementation and evaluation.

Simultaneously in so doing build a structure that promotes skills and knowledge among the youth through training and mentorship. The youth might not have enough money to engage fully in grantmaking but their commitment to the organization’s mission can make a significant contribution to its success. They also tag along creativity and contemporary technological skills to fundraising and communication, an essential prerequisite for development organizations.

Youth philanthropy just like any other form of philanthropy is critical to sustainable development in the region. EAAG in its core mandate to promote philanthropy in East Africa was challenged to nurture young philanthropists. EAAG needs to find ways in which foundations and trusts can foster best practices in youth philanthropy by continuously engaging young people. This is achievable by documenting youth philanthropy to generate knowledge, generate best practices and facilitate a community of practices for young people engaged in philanthropy.

Lets  continue with the discussion on twitter  @EAAG_Africa  #EAGrantmakers

Catherine Mwendwa, EAAG

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