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The ELMA Philanthropies provides philanthropic advisory services to the ELMA Group of Foundations.

From locations in New York, Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Kampala, The ELMA Philanthropies team develops program strategies, identifies and explores investment opportunities, monitors and evaluates investment performance, and manages strategic partnerships for The ELMA Group of Foundations.

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Our Approach

Eight principles
define our overarching approach to philanthropy.

A COMMITMENT TO ORGANIZATIONS ON THE FRONT LINES

We believe: Strong local organizations and leadership are essential for ensuring that improvements in the lives of children and the communities that support them are relevant, cost-effective, and sustainable. 

Therefore: For most of ELMA’s philanthropy, which is focused on Africa, this means prioritizing our investments in African institutions and change agents over international non-governmental organizations. When considering investments in international non-governmental organizations, we ensure programs are led by country teams and aligned with local stakeholder priorities, and that most of our capital is utilized in country. International non-governmental organizations best suited for ELMA funding are those that have lean international overhead and empowered country leadership with whom ELMA can directly engage.

DEEP ENGAGEMENT

We believe: Effective philanthropy requires deep engagement with the people, organizations, issues, and contexts in which we invest.  

Therefore: Largely through our teams in Southern and East Africa, we seek to understand the priorities and challenges of the governments, institutions, and people with whom we partner, and the evolving contexts in which they operate. Furthermore, based on our rigorous due diligence and ongoing investment management, we have a deep understanding of the strengths and challenges of the organizations in which we invest. We leverage this engagement to inform our investments, provide non-financial support to organizations, and connect funders, implementers, and other stakeholders with one another to build collective efforts toward change. We partner with organizations that welcome this type of engagement. 

A FOCUS ON EVIDENCE

We believe: Evidence that is developed and shared in an actionable way can improve our and others' funding, policies, and practice. 

Therefore: ELMA invests in programs that are evidence-based or evidence-producing. Organizations best suited for ELMA investment are those that have a culture of performance management and data-driven decision-making. We support measurement and evaluation efforts to improve program delivery, assess the return on our investments, and to develop evidence that can transform policy and practice.

FLEXIBILITY ON HOW, WHO, WHAT, AND WHEN WE FUND

We believe: Improvements in the lives of children and communities are driven by governments, non-governmental organizations, businesses, social movements, and community-based organizations. 

Therefore: We invest in multiple types of entities, and structure our investments according to the type of organization in which we are investing and what we aim to achieve. Types of ELMA investments include: general support grants, project support grants, equity, and debt. 

A PORTFOLIO APPROACH

We believe: There are no silver bullets to complex problems, and no single investment or organization will enable scalable, sustainable solutions to the challenges we tackle. 

Therefore: We invest in complementary organizations and programs that address multiple aspects of a problem. We draw on our deep engagement to convene and connect these organizations and encourage mutual learning and coordinated action where appropriate.

PARTNERING WITH OTHER INVESTORS

We believe: By co-investing with other funders, we share both the risks and successes, and ultimately maximize impact beyond what we could have achieved on our own. Furthermore, co-investing mitigates the risk of a grantee over-relying on ELMA for funding.

Therefore: Wherever possible, we aim to partner with co-funders, governments, and implementers to jointly design, fund and manage investments. 

BALANCING A CATALYTIC MINDSET WITH A LONG-TERM VIEW

We believe: As a private philanthropy, we are uniquely positioned to make long-term commitments to the complex problems we are trying to solve. That said, being patient does not mean perpetually funding solutions with no exit in sight or sustainability after our exit. Rather, our role is to provide risk capital that may catalyze larger and more influential players such as governments, large non-governmental organizations, and multi-lateral agencies to adopt and scale what works.

Therefore: ELMA implements multi-year portfolio strategies and makes multi-year investments in programs and organizations that have the potential to drive lasting change. While our strategies and investments often have a long-term view, they also have an “exit strategy” in mind, ideally one that involves ongoing sustainability, and often scale-up, of what we fund beyond our investment. These “exit strategies” often entail plans to catalyze increased or improved funding, policy, or practice.

BALANCING STRATEGY WITH OPPORTUNITY

We believe: We must balance strategy with opportunity so that we can deeply engage with specific focus areas, while ensuring we are responsive to evolving priorities of our key partners and beneficiaries.

Therefore: We aim to focus the majority of our financial and human resources on strategic priorities, while being open to compelling opportunities to drive impact in the overarching focus areas of our foundations.

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Our Values

  • Humility and integrity

  • Respect for human dignity

  • Pursuit of excellence

  • Commitment to partnership

  • A results-orientation informed by continuous learning

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Our Offices

New York

The ELMA Philanthropies Services (U.S.) Inc. 
99 Park Avenue, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10016

Cape Town

The ELMA Philanthropies Services (Africa) (Pty) Ltd. 
ABSA Building, 20th Floor
2 Riebeek St. Cape Town 8001

Johannesburg

The ELMA Philanthropies Services (Africa) (Pty) Ltd. 
304 The Mall Offices
11 Cradock Ave. Rosebank 2196

Kampala

The ELMA Philanthropies Services (East Africa) Limited
DTB Centre, 10th Floor
17/19 Kampala Road Kampala, Uganda