“Without data, everything is conjecture”

Content Manager • 28 January 2018

Remarked Nana Asantewaa Afadzinu, Executive Director of West Africa Civil Society Institute, during a data strategy and capacity building for philanthropy workshop organized in November by Foundation Center, the SDG Philanthropy Platform, and the Africa Philanthropy Network.

Data provides compelling portraits of the elements shaping philanthropy and this could have implications on formulating a comprehensive public policy towards philanthropy within the development space in Ghana.  

In most instances, lack of data impedes the assessment of the scale and impact of philanthropy in Ghana. That is, even imperfect estimations of the scale of philanthropy from the diverse range of actors-corporate philanthropy, grassroots or community philanthropy, global philanthropy (in-flows), faith-based giving, and diaspora giving is always difficult to obtain locally. What is usually available are from global sources such as the Foundation Center. Therefore, it was imperative to host data workshops to create awareness and build the capacity of foundations.

This was the second of two workshops; the first of which was held in October  2017, to identify specific data needs for philanthropy in Ghana. This second workshop focused on three key priority areas. First, sustainable financing and resources to enable philanthropy to provide a more coordinated data system for a better assessment of the impact of interventions and accompanying investments. This would curtail duplication, provides reliable and accessible data to support evidenced-based planning. Second, the need to augment capacity in areas of data collection, analysis and the application of technology—develop an online interactive tool that is user-friendly, accessible and could potentially capture both financial and non-financial giving. Third, working with government, which is in harmony with creating an enabling environment for philanthropy in Ghana. As a prerequisite for engagement, participants agreed that “government together with relevant actors should define what philanthropy is in the local context” appreciating the depth, awareness and nuances of traditional forms of giving.

Participants acknowledged the need for a national voice for philanthropy which among others should mobilize the unique strengths of the myriad strands of philanthropy for effective government engage, and also become a data hub. Indeed, the recently launched Ghana Philanthropy and Impact Investors Network by the SDG Philanthropy Platform, together with our partners Social Enterprise Ghana and Reach for Change is an important pivot to galvanize stakeholders for collective advocacy and engagement with government on creating an enabling environment for philanthropy, as well as using data to tell compelling stories about the potential value and contributions of philanthropic investments toward achieving the SDGs in Ghana.

Awareness of how to better consolidate data on the philanthropy’s contributions is gaining traction and hopefully it will only grow further.

Author Isaac Ofosu Debrah is Research Analyst at the SDG Philanthropy Platform hosted by UNDP in Ghana.