How can disadvantaged universities attract more funding?

It is five years since Inyathelo, with the support of the Kresge Foundation (a primarily domestic American foundation), first asked Dr Sean Jones of EduActive Solutions to conduct the Annual Survey of Philanthropy in Higher Education (ASPIHE). This series of research reports was the first in South Africa to document philanthropic funding of higher education institutions.

It aimed to establish a baseline on philanthropic support to South African universities and it was also hoped that it would be a stimulus for similar research studies of other areas of third stream income in South African higher education. Until then, no reliable national perspective on philanthropic giving to universities existed, and few universities collected comprehensive data of this kind.

The 11 universities in this latest survey received a collective total of ZAR1.71 billion (US$122.7 million) in philanthropic income in 2017 – ZAR978 million higher than recorded for the 10 universities taking part in the first survey in 2013. Median annual philanthropic income was ZAR108 million in 2017, which is significantly higher than the median of ZAR23 million in 2013.

The proportion of income from South African sources was 72%, which is 35% higher than in 2013. International donors contributed 28% of philanthropic income but comprised only 10% of donors.


The background to this growth in local contributions is that the Kresge Foundation also began partnering with Inyathelo to build ‘Advancement’ capacity at some South African universities from 2006. At that time virtually no institutions employed experienced, or even trained, Advancement professionals.

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Nazeema Mohamed is the executive director of Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement. Inyathelo’s mission is to help build a strong, stable civil society and democracy in South Africa by contributing to the development of sustainable organisations and institutions. This is done through developing effective grant-seeking and grant-making practices, and through capacity development in the higher education and non-profit sectors in South Africa, and on the African continent. Find out more at


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