By Pamala Wiepking
Social entrepreneur and philanthropist Tsitsi Masiyiwa could not have started the seminar in honor of the launch of the International Review of Philanthropy and Social Investment in a better way.
She started by stating that in the midst of a global pandemic, there is not much to celebrate, but that the launch of this new journal on philanthropy and social investments is a cause for immense celebration.
She continued: “On the African continent for too long we tried to copy a model that is based on Western ideas. On laws, incentives and regulations that award people for giving. In our continent giving is driven by the way in which we are connected to the communities we serve. The journal gives the platform to define philanthropy, and when it can be considered a success by our own metrics and standards, fitting for the way our communities are structured.”
Bhekinkosi Moyo, one of the new journal’s editors and director of the Centre on African Philanthropy and Social Investment, Wits Business School University of Witwatersrand, took the word next, and explained that the need for an African journal has been clear for a long time. There is a strong need for published research on African practices and African philanthropy. Academic credibility is important, and therefore the work published in the International Review of Philanthropy and Social Investment is peer reviewed.
In November 2019, during the ARNOVA Conference in San Diego, I had the pleasure of being part of a colloquium discussing how we could increase the global representation of philanthropy research. Participants included the editors of Voluntas, NVSQ, Journal on Muslim Philanthropy and Civil Society, and the African Center for Philanthropy and Social Investment, represented by Bhekinkosi Moyo himself.
In three groups of about 10 people, the audience and the panelists discussed the barriers to academic publishing for work originating outside North America and Western Europe and brainstormed solutions to overcome these barriers, preferably actionable goals.
The colloquium led to a very insightful overview of barriers and potential solutions, from a range of different cultural and disciplinary perspectives. We ended with the goal to come to an equal representation of scholarship from all over the world.
With this new journal, Moyo and his collaborators made a strong contribution to solving the issues identified in this colloquium to increase the global representation of scholars in philanthropy research.
One of the issues African researchers experienced until now was that it is very hard to publish in the global North-based journals, due to many reasons. This journal will provide these researchers the opportunity to publish their work about their own local context.
The journal will also serve to disseminate the work of African research centers, including the Centre on African Philanthropy and Social Investment at the Wits Business School in Johannesburg.
I think the fact that International Review of Philanthropy and Social Investment is open access is a brilliant strategy. It eliminates the issue that many researchers outside of wealthy U.S. and European institutions experience, that work they want to access is behind paywalls. It ensures that everyone interested can access and read the work published, and knowledge can build on what has already published.
I want to conclude by joining Masiyiwa in the celebration of this amazing achievement. This new journal has been long overdue, and I congratulate the editors and contributors for making this a reality. It will provide philanthropy scholars, students and practitioners with much needed different global perspectives, and hopefully through this lead to a more inclusive notion of philanthropy and philanthropy research.
Pamala Wiepking is the Visiting Stead Family Chair in International Philanthropy and visiting associate professor in philanthropic studies at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.