“Matshidiso is one of the best Africa advocates and consultants with whom I have worked. She is in that rare league of great consultants who are both effective and efficient.” – Francois Baird (Co-Founder & Co-Chairman, Baird’s CMC)
Matshidiso Masire recently joined Baird’s CMC as a full associate. Along with her deep expertise in programme development and public affairs, communication and advocacy strategy, Matshidiso also brings to the table her passion for sustainable change in Africa.
In Part 1 of this three-part series, Matshidiso tells us about her work and shares her thoughts on strategic philanthropy, particularly in the African context.
Q. What are you areas of specialty?
MM: I specialise in strategic philanthropy and focus on health research – these lie at the heart of my work. With regards to Baird’s CMC, I would say I am part of the Africa expert team, which looks at different aspects of communications for the company.
I also run my own consulting firm, Bridging Dialogue, based out of Botswana. We are a professional advisory services firm, with a focus on four core areas: strategic philanthropy; research analysis; strategic communication and public affairs; and stakeholder engagement, advocacy and outreach.
Q. Strategic philanthropy is still a largely unfamiliar term for many of us. How would you explain it to the lay-person?
MM: For me, strategic philanthropy is about sustainable philanthropy. Philanthropy is often part of a company’s CSR initiatives. But it’s not always specific to companies. There are also many high-net-worth individuals who are looking for someone to help them identify and leverage opportunities for capital investment. The target is societal betterment. Our end goal is to help ensure that the investment is meaningful and measurable for the person or the company giving the money.
First, we examine and understand the client needs, their target audience, and what sort of impact they want to make. Then, we develop the strategy around what to do and how to do it. The idea is to streamline the philanthropic initiative to ensure that it is serves both the client needs and the community needs. The project should have direct impact and be sustainable over the long term. Next, we have implementation, where we move from the idea stage to the execution stage. Finally, we monitor and evaluate the programme and report the impact.
Throughout the process, we also think about how to communicate with the client’s stakeholder groups. Remember, philanthropy is often linked to an organisation’s reputation and image, so reaching out to stakeholders and informing them is key.
Q. Could you give us an example of strategic philanthropy?
MM: I think an example would make this clearer. We work with a major international foundation, which was founded in 2007 and focuses on youth-related issues. Recently, we had an opportunity to introduce their brand to Botswana. We needed to look at how to best leverage the brand as well as their expertise for the betterment of our society, particularly young people. So, we began to develop a holistic strategy – if he’s going to be here and we are holding a fundraising dinner, then why not engage with the youth? We decided to conduct sessions that talked and shared lessons about entrepreneurship and innovation – topics that are relevant for young adults. Simultaneously, we organised events with the private sector, where the discussion was around how Botswana can become a power force in the region, even as a small land-locked nation.
You see, the money is only the beginning. It doesn’t stop with that. We may get a million pula to implement a project, but how do we strategically ensure that those whom we’ve targeted as recipients are going to benefit directly from this and ensure that its sustainable over time? We had three ongoing programmes at this time, so we used XYZ’s presence to raise funds for the organisation in order to ensure long-term implementation. We managed to actually raisee enough money for one of the programmes without even touching the foundation’s budget. As a result of this effort, many people began to understand exactly what we do.
In Part 2, read about challenges specific to southern Africa, what drives Matshidiso and the healthcare sector in Rwanda.