Session Briefs

Session Briefs

The conference session briefs describe the various sessions within the conference that further interrogate the conference’s sub-themes and share insights on how philanthropy can explore its strengths and identify new ideas to achieve its aspirations. They aid in demonstrating the roadmap to achieving the conference outcomes.

Day 1: Building Resilience

Theme: Building Resilience

Achieving resilience in the face of a disaster like the COVID-19 pandemic requires philanthropy and non-profits to support efforts that lead to positive, enduring forward movement. This movement will enable people to learn and change and enable the socio-ecological system to adapt to its dynamic environment. These efforts may require inclusive, participatory, multi-stakeholder resilience planning as the foundation of effective resilience building. Resilience needs to be system-based and holistic. At the same time, responsibilities in the process and accountability mechanisms ought to be clear.

 Therefore, this thematic focus will aim at:

(i) interrogating what institutional context philanthropy needs to apply to; and the need for philanthropy to leverage technology to build stronger efficiency and effective systems and processes.

(ii) growing social capital, question relation-building and the power dynamics in philanthropy that can bring local actors to take the lead in establishing development priorities and outcomes – building the necessary partnerships and collaborations for onward operations and management. 

Plenary Session

Plenary discussions will focus on the theme of the day – Building resilience. The session dubbed “Sailing the disruptive wave:  establishing meaning for philanthropy in emerging realities” sets out to provoke discussions on:

  1. The emerging nuances for African philanthropy and opportunities for philanthropy to think, act and  demonstrate a difference in the new realities
  2. Private philanthropy and its role in ensuring local ownership (decolonization of systems)
  3. Shaping the African narrative for giving in response to emerging realities

Breakout Session 1

Community Philanthropy Isn’t Coming – It Has Arrived

Traditionally, countries and INGOs have played a collaborative role in responding to social crises, but COVID-19 fractured these systems; and local institutions were at the forefront of responding to the needs that arose from the crises.  The session highlights perspectives from community foundations that were (and some still are) at the frontline of designing responses to COVID-19. It informs how community philanthropy as a model works when communities face social crises and beyond.

Re-Imagining Grant-Making in East Africa Through a Decolonisation Lens

The session aims to contribute thought leadership on defining and understanding decolonising philanthropy. Specifically,

  • Conversations the development space are not yet having,
  • Forms of power development actors are not yet confronting,
  • Peeling away layers of decolonisation that are uncomfortable yet critical if development wants to get to systemic change.

Collaborations for community philanthropy in building resilience: A case for Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda

This session showcases community-led development approaches and local resource mobilisation as key in building community resilience, especially in the wake of emergencies and pandemics. The session will seek to bolster the fact that Community-led leadership is not about who is in charge but how people come together to make change a reality. The session seeks to generate discussion on demand for local leadership, participation in development processes and local resource mobilisation.

Breakout Session 2

Well-being and Wellness: Energising Philanthropy for the Future!

There are increased calls to recognize the wellness of philanthropy actors and its impact on the well-being of an organisation; as well as its ability to be effective in responding in times of crisis. The session will give practical insights on the interrelation between the wellness of individuals and organisations and share practices organisations can adapt towards supporting their team’s well-being.

Media and Philanthropy:

The growing interest to advance African philanthropy narratives cannot be achieved fully without the active engagement of the media. The session focuses on building a case for collaborative philanthropy, exploring the intersection between media and philanthropy towards understanding the African context of giving, telling stories and building public trust and transparency in philanthropy. The session is also an opportunity to identify strategies that demystify the philanthropy sector and call for concerted efforts to collate indigenous data on philanthropy in East Africa.


Day 2: Ensuring Relevance

Theme: Ensuring Relevance

There have been different innovative shifts happening in the philanthropy space. Organisations and communities are  learning fast and adapting to stay relevant. Some of these innovations include technology-based modes of working, data collection, fundraising, among others. There has also been a significant shift towards sustainability, driven by indigenous giving and emphasis on community-driven philanthropy. These different movements indicate an era in philanthropy, where communities participate in decision-making regarding the solutions offered to them and are recognised as co-owners with funding partners

Plenary Session

Plenary discussions will focus on the theme of the day – Ensuring Relevance. The session dubbed “Stretching the band, failing forward for Philanthropy to SOAR – Stirring introspection among philanthropy players towards building its strengths, maximise opportunities, share its aspirations, and demonstrate results will address:

  1. Re-assessing current philanthropy practices –exploring their responsiveness to the demands on the plate of African development.
  2. Agitating for change in private philanthropy.
  3. Integration of civil society, philanthropy and private capital and advancing the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Breakout Sessions

Strengthening Philanthropic Partnerships through a Shared Value Model

It is noted that the lack of autonomy in decision making and loss of control over the program implementation has seen very few partnerships getting adopted in giving practices. The session takes an in-depth analysis of the effect of shifting this trend towards sustainable partnership models with the expectation that partnerships formed through the Shared Value model are blueprints for aligning the interests and goals of organisations,  demonstrating how collaborations can benefit the efforts of the public and philanthropic sectors. 

Transforming Aid and Philanthropy to Accelerate Community-led Change 

Transforming philanthropy to meet people at their point of need, can be incredibly challenging. It requires a system lens that allows for flexibility and adaptability, that will re-center accountability to the communities philanthropy supports. This session, seeks to elicit  discussion on what is required in building trust-based approaches that can change philanthropy practices to ensure relevance. 

African-led and Community Philanthropy: Intersections of Equity, Agency and Sustainability

The session focuses on the implications of a paradigm shift in community led philanthropy, that can influence the development sector toward equity, power-differentials, sustainability and ownership of the development process and solutions. The session will share insights on the emerging impact from the mixed models of community-generated philanthropy.


The marketplace is a space where conference delegates get to meet, connect and share on their role and work in making philanthropy thrive in the region. It is an exciting platform that provides an opportunity for connection across the philanthropy ecosystem.


Day 3: Enabling Environment

Theme: Enabling Environment

Philanthropy plays a visible role in supporting sustainable development; it is imperative to focus on the conditions where philanthropy can thrive and address the barriers that constrain its growth.  An enabling environment for philanthropy creates, recreates, facilitates and promotes collaboration, flow of energy between people and organisations while building trust. This trust and the highlighted values lay the foundation for constructing norms, legal standards, the development of governance – institutional and administrative frameworks that guide and regulate the environment for philanthropy. This theme focuses on cultural and socio-political practices, legal and legislative policies, regulatory quality, economic freedoms, legacies and strong infrastructure that can potentially motivate philanthropic behaviours and further the development of philanthropy.

Description of Plenary Session

Plenary discussions will speak on the theme of the day – Enabling Environment. This thought provoking session “Building our muscle, collaboration in growing philanthropy – The emerging role of associations in informing standards and frameworks for philanthropy growth in Africa,” will focus on:

  1. The essence of Movement building that informs the growth of the philanthropy ecosystem.
  2. The emerging role of social investments in influencing philanthropy frameworks in Africa
  3. The role of African philanthropists in influencing systems change to strengthen African philanthropy

Breakout Sessions

Completing the Circuit; Strengthening feedback mechanisms between civil society and funders towards building an enabling environment for philanthropy

The session will highlight practices that enable a feedback loop between funders and civil society organisations in Kenya. Lessons will be shared from both the funders and civil society organisations on ways to listen to each other and create an environment where feedback is allowed, well received and actioned.

Re-imagining philanthropy in the era of technology

Influence of technology in the non-profit sector is apparent, especially in the era of COVID 19 pandemic. It is evidenced by the increased online giving platforms, increased accountability and greater awareness of philanthropy impact. This session therefore is a call for philanthropy organisations to embrace technology to continually innovate around grant making and documenting philanthropy, as a way of increasing visibility while leveraging on the increased technology accessibility in the region. Data management will therefore be a critical component for philanthropy to thrive.

Law and Philanthropy: Sustainable Development from the Ground Up

The session highlights the need to establish strategic multisector partnerships at grass root and national levels; through learning on philanthropic legal, policy and regulatory framework that support community philanthropy and best practices for community engagement. The session aims at encouraging non-profits to use their social capital to transform their engagements with communities; and in turn establish their resilience in development.

Closing Ceremony

East Africa Philanthropy Awards

The East Africa Philanthropy Awards (EAPA) is a mechanism to identify, recognize and celebrate outstanding contributions of individuals and organizations to social development and the growth of philanthropy in the region. Through the awards, the network hopes to promote a culture of giving while acknowledging role models who have made remarkable  contributions towards addressing social challenges as demonstrated in their innovations and leadership. The EAPA was launched in 2011, and we have had 3 rounds of the Awards.  The 2021 edition is the 4th in the series.

In the 4th EAPA we are  recognizing, highlighting and celebrating the  best practices and creativity in the philanthropy sector in East Africa. Cognisant significant shifts in how the “business” of philanthropy is conducted, this year’s award seeks to Celebrate, Showcase and Amplify emerging and sustained good practice in promoting African philanthropy. Keeping in mind that pivots, innovations, and creativity that was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, we aim to take stock and recognize the positive efforts the sector has made to ensure communities in the East African region, endure and even prosper in the face of the unforeseen adverse effects of the global pandemic




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