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Trust-Based Philanthropy and Savings Groups for the Elderly

Over the weekend, the SIA North American Board and the African Advisory Board met to review our grantmaking strategy, and to begin visioning for our next 25 years as an organization. Spanning a ten hour time difference, and coming from five different countries, we discussed how we can best support our grant partners as they do the work to transform their communities and regions.

As a board we have been exploring the framework of Trust-Based Philanthropy. This is a framework that fits with our vision and current mode of operation, while also pushing us to be more justice-focused, rather than charity-focused.

“Trust-based foundations don’t write a check and walk away leaving the grantee to do whatever they want,” says Brenda Solorzano, CEO of Headwaters Foundation Montana, in a recent blog post about the approach. “Trust-based funders stay in relationship with grantees to learn about the work, help provide other types of assistance and together, determine changes that are needed to achieve the desired impact. This close relationship allows for greater transparency and communication about challenges and opportunities.”

Curious about Trust-Based Philanthropy? Here is an excellent overview guide.

Since 2019, the integration of the African Advisory Board into SIA’s leadership structure has moved us more clearly towards Trust-Based Philanthropy. Our AAB members are mentors to grant partners, visiting them and offering advice and support. Also, the North American Board and African Advisory Board meet together regularly, bringing those who know the context and impact of our work into the (Zoom) board room.

Supportive Relationships: Spotlight on one SIA Partner

At our meeting on Saturday, Naomi Ayot (AAB Member from Uganda), shared an update from SIA Grant Partner Kakuuto Development Initiative (KADI). KADI also focuses on starting from a place of trust and prioritizing relationships within their programming.

“Usually savings and loaning associations look at productive age, and they only lend to people who they are sure will be able to bring back the money," reported Naomi. "But what makes KADI exceptional is that their savings and loaning association is for the elderly. Most people think this group is a high risk, and so they fear to lend the elderly any funds.

“The process, the dynamics of this group work, is a kind of group therapy. The KADI groups meet every Saturday, and when you hear the jokes that they make together and the way they talk, you hear that it is also a support group for the elderly, which makes it very unique. This is in contrast to the government programs where people have to wait long lines to get a small handout of money. The group has supported the elderly to get into their very own self-initiated income generating activities, such as rearing pigs, goats, and rabbits.”

KADI has two groups for the elderly, a group for the disabled, and a group for youth, each with 24 members. A grant from Spirit in Action and Amistad International helped form the foundation of their loan funds. Each session members are asked to contribute $0.50 - $2.50 per person in savings, then people can take loans based on how much they have saved. The group is also accountable to each other between meetings, if someone misses a session, someone will go to check on that person, to find out if they are okay.

Listen to Naomi's full (5-minute) report:


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