A bold commitment to changing the culture of philanthropy

January 12, 2017


IDEX – International Development Exchange* and Africans in the Diaspora (AiD) are pleased to announce an organizational merger. Since their partnership started in 2014, AiD and IDEX have been conducting targeted joint programming and outreach to engage diasporans in philanthropy and to channel those resources to local, grassroots organizations across the African continent.

Creating space for African diaspora participation in IDEX’s grantmaking and solidarity work is an expression of IDEX’s commitment to changing the culture of philanthropy. Also a mark of IDEX’s central tenants of learning from its partners, this is the first time a US-based grassroots funder has re-arranged its structure to accommodate diaspora-focused programming.

Moving forward, AiD will function as an IDEX program focused on diaspora engagement. Stephanie de Wolfe, IDEX’s new diaspora partnerships director, will lead this program. Solome Lemma, co-founder and former executive director of AiD will go on to serve as IDEX’s deputy director, overseeing the organization’s global grantmaking program.

While the aid and philanthropy sectors have begun to recognize the growing significance of the African diaspora in development, few institutions fully engage diasporans in strategy-setting and program and financial decision-making.

AiD emerged as a crowdfunding platform in 2012 to demonstrate the powerful impact that collective resources, skills, and ideas pooled from African on the continent and in the diaspora can have in home communities. Through targeted strategies to support effective, grassroots leaders and approaches, AiD and IDEX share a vision of self-reliant African countries that drive development through their own human and financial resources.

The merger comes at a time where both organizations recognize the need for global solidarity and cooperation to transform the reverberating impacts of imperialism and colonization, demonstrated by IDEX’s recent partnership with Black Lives Matters.

Solidarity, communalism, even philanthropy—are deeply-held African values. They are cornerstones to our cultural systems and notions of kinship. To that end, coming together to pool resources—monetary and other—of a global community of African descent can be a powerful reclamation of Pan-African solidarity,” says Stephanie de Wolfe.

This is especially important in a moment where it is impossible to ignore the systemic effects of dominant Western values on Black lives—native, immigrant, diaspora, U.S. citizens alike. Ultimately, we want to advance our mission in an institutional home that is committed to a vision of eradicating anti-Black racism.

Both organizations adopt equity-driven approaches to their grassroots-centered, responsive philanthropy and are committed to diversifying and strengthening the philanthropic and global development sector as a whole. Both organizations support visionary grassroots leaders in as they develop, test, and innovate transformative approaches to lasting social change on the ground.

IDEX looks forward to building and learning with the African diaspora to build philanthropic power,” says Rajasvini Bhansali, IDEX’s Executive Director.

The willingness to learn from indigenous practices is just one of the many shared philosophies that motivated this merger. Another is the power of the collective. Pooling community resources for everyone’s betterment is a practice that African societies have modeled for centuries.

In its first five years of operation, AiD supported the work of 14 grassroots organizations in seven African countries focused on economic empowerment, education, and health services. AiD raised over US$250,000 to support these local organizations with significant contributions from diaspora donors, reflecting the commitment of the African diaspora to invest in innovative and community-oriented solutions.

We are thrilled to find a permanent home for AiD at IDEX. For us, this marks a significant evolution from our first phase: where we sought to demonstrate that as a collective, the African diaspora has the potential to impact transformative change in Africa,” says Solome Lemma, AiD’s founder and executive director and now IDEX’s deputy director.

Now in our second phase, IDEX could not be a better home for our work. This moment in history asks us to join forces with like-minded institutions who recognize common approaches to humanizing Black lives globally,” she says. “IDEX is a social justice funder with over three decades of experience in Global South partnership and alliance-building. More importantly, the vision we share together is bold, radical, and values-driven.

For more information on Africans in the Diaspora’s work, visit: www.africansinthediaspora.org


*Thousand Currents changed its name from IDEX in 2016

Share this: