Inyathelo – Steadfast in Serving South African Civil Society

Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement was founded as a non-profit Trust in October 2002 by Shelagh Gastrow. Its vision remains a vibrant democracy in South Africa, underpinned by a sustainable civil society, supported by a strong local philanthropic movement and rooted in the African cultural heritage of sharing.

The aim is to help build strong, sustainable civil society organisations and institutions and create new knowledge and practice in the field of Advancement. Advancement refers to a systematic, integrated approach to building and managing external relationships with key constituents and stakeholders to attract support and ensure long-term sustainability.

Inyathelo runs training workshops, hosts information sessions and contextual talks, undertakes long-term multi-year programmes with a fixed number of institutions (both universities and NPOs) and provides one-to-one advice and mentorship to a wide range of organisations. In addition, it raises awareness of the importance of South Africans supporting civil society.

Some of Inyathelo’s milestones include:

Supporters: Inyathelo has built up strong relationships with donors who have provided sustained and generous support. They currently include the Kresge Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. Key supporters also include the service providers that the organisation has built relationships with over the years such as associates, facilitators, researchers and writers contributing to the dissemination of knowledge.

The Inyathelo Civil Society Sustainability Centre: Thanks to funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies, Inyathelo has a welcoming, well-resourced hub in Woodstock, Cape Town. It provides an attractive, creative and supportive space for NPOs and institutions. Clients can access FundingFinder – Inyathelo’s online donor directory – as well as resources and material via the book lounge, and use meeting spaces and facilities to conduct their work. The hub also serves as an additional income generator through renting its conference facilities and office space.

Capacity Building Clinic: Inyathelo is in the fortunate position of having received funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation for many years. It has leveraged this to run a capacity building non-profit clinic that provides one-on-one advice, training and support to NPOs. It also advises individuals who are social innovators and opens up opportunities for peer learning and exchange. With robust procedures in place, there is greater expectation of long-term sustainability.

The Inyathelo-Kresge programme: Inyathelo has worked in partnership with the Kresge Foundation for more than a decade to help develop the private fundraising and Advancement efforts of local universities.  These institutions have utilised the Kresge programme, and the opportunities that came with it, to build Advancement practices that have greatly increased giving and capacity.

Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards: For ten years, until 2016, Inyathelo held an annual Philanthropy Awards event to recognise outstanding individuals, families and organisations that have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others. The awardees have proven that you don’t have to have significant resources or great influence to make a real difference in many people’s lives.  Inyathelo launched the Philanthropy Forum in 2017 to examine the impact of philanthropy and discuss the intersection of traditional and new in the giving environment. In doing so, it highlighted the need for research in the philanthropy sector.

Rhodes Certificate: Rhodes University and Inyathelo have partnered to offer a short university-accredited certificate course in Advancement.  The course seeks to drive a fundamental shift in thinking around organisational and institutional mission, objectives and delivery – and how to attract donor resources in support of this.  The course is aimed at professionals working in the field of Advancement, including academics, CEOs, trustees, managers and other staff involved in fundraising, marketing, donor and project management, alumni relations, community-building, and the development and implementation of strategies to secure financial support and mobilise resources.

As far as the future is concerned, Inyathelo is committed to growing a vision of a society well-served by a vibrant democracy through increased activity in spheres such as:

  • Expanded research, training and capacity building for Advancement programmes for civil society institutions across the country;
  • Continued analysis and sharing of the legislative direction that government takes in relation to civil society organisations;
  • Training and capacity-building aimed at helping NPOs to improve their communications, financial, strategy and leadership competencies;
  • Continued gathering and sharing of information on the South African NPO and philanthropy sector;
  • Wider and more energetic promotion of the sustainability centre and exceptional resources for civil society organisations.

Given that resources in the civil society and non-profit sector are thinly-stretched, it makes sense to make use of Inyathelo’s services, which are appropriate for both start-ups and established NPOs. You can find everything from well-located and affordable work spaces, where individuals can network with like-minded people, to the FundingFinder database where they can search for potential donors.

Contact details:

Tel: +27 21 465 6981
Fax: +27 21 465 6953
WWW: / (online resource platform)
Twitter: @inyathelo
Facebook: @Inyathelo
Pinterest: Inyathelo
LinkedIn: Inyathelo

This is the first NGO profile of my 2018 #NGOs4Africa Campaign.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Start a Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: