Year End Letter from the Executive Director – Reflection on IPASA’s Impact In 2021
Louise Driver, IPASA Executive Director
The past year has been another one of uncertainty and disruption; opportunity and challenge; reflection and learning; and realizing that philanthropy has to change in this ever-changing new world we now face. As 2021 finally draws to a close I look back on this past year and reflect on how the work of IPASA as an organisation has supported philanthropy in equipping them for this change.
Over this year we have worked hard to support our members, as well as the entire funder sector in South Africa, in providing the necessary resources and connections to implement the substantial change needed in funders’ mindset and practise. We focused strongly on events that brought key stakeholders in the philanthropy sector together to learn, share and connect on pressing philanthropy concerns and challenges.
Having established active funding sector-specific engagements over 2020 in response to Covid, we continued in 2021 with these meetings and workshops to build on what had already been achieved in getting funders to better understand and address the deep systemic issues in these sectors. We focused on Basic Education Funder support, concentrating on how to address the huge learning losses which arose from Covid-19 and continued to be an escalating issue this year. We also looked at how we could build the capacity of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) funder space to ensure funders could better support the sector with the severe issues which had been exacerbated by Covid and the resulting closures of ECD centres.
Furthermore, acknowledging the intersectionality of funding focus areas, we examined how critical matters such as social justice, mental wellness and climate change intersects across every funding sector. We ran events that created awareness and connection among funders around these significant areas, looking at how funders can consider and address these issues in the projects and programmes they are investing in.
Beyond supporting funders in their focus areas, we also delved deeply into how funders fund – grant-making and funding practise. We looked at new practises as well as newly emerging ways of funding including community-led philanthropy; participatory grant-making; trust-based philanthropy; shifting the power; and systems change work. We encouraged funders to better listen to their partners on the ground; to work with them closely in defining the problems which they were seeking to solve; to jointly identify and shape solutions to these problems; and work in partnership in the programme implementation in order to reach commonly agreed outcomes. IPASA encouraged and challenged funders to stop, reflect, revise and in some cases drastically change the way they were doing their work in order to really create significant impactful change.
Going into 2022, IPASA aims to reach more of the key role players in the philanthropy sector who can add significant value to creating a stronger, more diverse, and more effective funding community. We will continue to expose all those who we engage with in philanthropy, to innovative and impactful ways of thinking and working while actively promoting and encouraging a more vibrant, thoughtful, transparent, and inclusive philanthropy sector in South Africa.
Thank you to our members and partners, as well as the attendees, delegates, researchers, writers, consultants, and service providers who we worked and interacted with this year – your assistance and involvement has contributed meaningfully towards our goal to strengthen, stretch and support philanthropy in our country.