Last year was a remarkable year for large-scale giving by African donors. The continent’s philanthropic sector displayed unprecedented generosity and a strong commitment to helping Africa manage its fight against COVID-19.

The threat of COVID-19 on African lives and livelihoods was acute. As with other parts of the world, the pandemic risked healthcare systems being overrun. Globally, the public health crisis quickly became an economic one. In Africa in particular, the International Monetary Fund now estimates that economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa declined 2.6 percent in 2020 —the region’s first recession in 25 years. As these threats mounted, African governments and philanthropists responded.

In our research at The Bridgespan Group, we found 45 large gifts, from March through December of 2020 in three countries, totalling roughly $269 million in value. This represents a sea change in the volume of African large-scale giving. In research that our Johannesburg- based team published in June 2020, we described the 64 “large gifts” (of $1 million or more) that we identified between 2010 and 2019, from donors across five countries in sub-Saharan Africa, totalling over $1 billion.

In just one year, in response to a pandemic that threatened livelihoods across the continent, African philanthropists gave seven times the annual average number of large gifts for the previous decade. No other disaster in the past 10 years attracted this magnitude of funding. The closest comparator is the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, for which we were able to identify six large gifts, totalling around $12 million.

Read the full article about large-scale giving by African philanthropists by Siyasanga Hayi-Charters, Maddie Holland, Soa Andrian, and Jan Schwier at The Bridgespan Group.