Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement (Inyathelo) was established in 2002 to build a vibrant democracy in South Africa (SA) with a robust and sustainable civil society supported by a strong local philanthropic movement, rooted in the African cultural heritage of sharing. Over the past decade, Inyathelo has worked tirelessly to fulfil this vision through the development of appropriate, effective grant-seeking and grant-making practices, and through capacity development in the higher education and nonprofit sectors in SA, and on the African continent.
Inyathelo has in every sense pioneered and developed the fields of advancement and philanthropy in SA and is now considered to be the leader in these areas of work, providing valuable resources, publications, advice, training and support on how to give and use funds effectively for the greatest social impact. The organisation has come a long way since it held its first workshop on donors and prospect research for the University of Cape Town in December 2002. Almost 10 years later, in August this year, it will launch Africa’s first ever Postgraduate Diploma in Advancement, in partnership with Rhodes Business School in Grahamstown. Inyathelo believes the diploma will help build the necessary professionalism and expertise needed in SA to help attract support from donors and sustain the institutions and organisations that form the backbone of our democracy.
The diploma compliments numerous other initiatives aimed at building capacity in the higher education and nonprofit sectors, including our annual Spring School and Autumn Academy. These three-day learning events provide a focused, consolidated skills development and peer-learning opportunity for higher education and nonprofit advancement practitioners respectively and explore critical aspects of the field including; prospect research; writing proposals; donor stewardship; communications and branding.
In 2011, Inyathelo also introduced its nonprofit clinic services (ASK Inyathelo) and it now has over 160 organisations on its books. The service offers free one-on-one advisory and mentorship services and the Inyathelo executive director’s office has served as a key resource for many nonprofit chief executive officers (CEOs) seeking peer support. The one-on-one meetings are backed up by other opportunities for organisations that attend the clinic, including training workshops, symposia, peer-to-peer learning sessions and a published toolkit that is provided to each clinic visitor.
The organisation recently refurbished and expanded its Resource Centre, which is freely available for use by nonprofits organisations and institutions in SA. The centre has over 2 000 resource items and forms the base from which we deliver on the core capacity development work of the Institute. It is also SA’s first cooperating collection of the United States (US)-based Foundation Centre, an association which provides Inyathelo’s clients with access to a huge resource of international donor information, and advancement and fundraising materials, guides and tips.
In May 2012, after many years of research and development, Inyathelo launched the most comprehensive and up-to-date online donor directory in SA. It is called the Inyathelo FundingFinder and subscribers can use its ‘advanced search’ to find prospective funders who support the kind of work they do and who may be willing to resource their projects or organisation. It is continually updating the entries on the database and hopes to have over a thousand donors by the end of the year.
While all these developments in many ways symbolise and represent Inyathelo’s commitment to building a strong community of Advancement practice in South Africa, there have been many other highlights and milestones in the first 10 years of our journey. Key to these has been the work it has done in the philanthropy space. Apart from contributing significantly to interest in, and reporting on, philanthropic giving in SA, Inyathelo has established a number of robust philanthropy-promotion initiatives such as the Annual Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards, the Private Philanthropy Circle, the Philanthropy South Africa website on all things philanthropy in our country, the monthly Philanthropy South Africa newsletter, and research into giving knowledge, attitudes and practices of high-net worth individuals as well as the grant-making practices of a range of funders based or working in South Africa.
Besides the actual work that the organisation undertakes in the nonprofit, higher education and philanthropy sectors, Inyathelo also involves itself in activities that impact on the capacity of these sectors to thrive. It has played a leading role in the development of an Independent Code of Governance for the Nonprofit Sector that will be more applicable to the needs of the sector than King III, which is essentially a corporate document.
In addition, Inyathelo has continued to play an active role in the Funding Practice Alliance, a number of organisations that came together to engage with funding issues that affect the nonprofit sector, in particular the lotteries. Following the production of a report entitled ‘Meeting their Mandates?’ which outlined how the National Lotteries Board and the National Development Agency function and where shortcomings exist, Inyathelo has been part of a team that has engaged with the parliamentary portfolio committee dealing with the Lotteries, met with the African National Congress working group (including the Minister of Trade and Industry) and has met with representatives from the Democratic Alliance as well. Inyathelo has also produced a great deal of material for the media on both the governance and lotteries issues and continues to engage the public on both.
Other key highlights over the past decade include the pioneering of the advancement ‘learning cooperative’ methodology, with black women CEOs in the nonprofit sector and black tourism entrepreneurs. It also developed and implemented a four-year youth philanthropy programme in nine Western Cape schools. The organisation is proud too of the design and implementation of a major partnership with the US-based Kresge Foundation to build Advancement and related capacity in SA universities and institutions, as well a key partnership with the US-based Atlantic Philanthropies to develop the financial management and resource mobilisation capacity of human rights organisations and those working with marginalised communities in rural areas.
But there is still much work to be done. Looking forward to the next decade, Inyathelo will continue its work to reinforce SA’s young democracy by strengthening civil society organisations and higher education institutions to ensure that active citizens are able to determine their voice and be heard, not just in words but in their programmes and in their action for change.
For more about Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement refer to www.inyathelo.org.za.