Giving Mechanisms

There are multiple options in terms of the vehicle or structure used for giving. The choice made will depend on a number of considerations. The key thing is to get proper tax and legal advice so that the tax obligations are clear and there is a shared understanding of the limits placed on the philanthropist by the various legal structures. Also, some banks and other professionals provide good, bespoke advice on structuring philanthropic giving.

The philanthropist could choose to keep things really simple (but possibly not very tax efficient) and make donations in her own name to various causes that align with her values.

Are you creating an operating foundation, purely grant making, or a mix of both? Are you donating to new or existing organizations? Essentially, the question here is – who will you support?


There are a wide variety of options for how to give and the choice the philanthropist makes will be guided by her values, experience and circumstances. 

What to consider when selecting a focus area:

  • Government policies and objectives about the issue
  • The current state of the issue in the country/ region/ area of interest

Arguably all donors have some sort of application criteria against which they evaluate and select applications but some donors choose not to write them down, relying on a more flexible approach to initiating the grant relationship.

Grants are often approved with conditions. These can be conditions relating to the timing of the funding, the ability of the organisation to raise matched funding or any other conditions precedent that are required before funding is released. 

Across the globe, there are examples of individuals who have chosen to give strategically without instituting formal foundations. There are also similar examples in the African context.