Performance of private Philanthropic organisations in Kenya: The case of the Palmhouse Foundation
A Kenya National Bureau of Statistics survey of 2009 shows that personal wealth of the top 10% of Kenyans increased on average five-fold over the past decade. The Society for International Development noted in its annual report of 2009 that the gap between this group and the bottom 20% of Kenyans is growing. While we have seen an upsurge in corporate social responsibility and there is anecdotal evidence of benevolence to family and friends, the question remains why this vast increase in personal wealth has not been matched by an upsurge in the formation of, and giving through, structured private philanthropic organisations, despite pervasive social needs. This dissertation will examine the factors contributing to the success of the Palmhouse Foundation, a privately-established philanthropic organisation that has swum against the current and succeeded in this niche. The organisation was founded to provide assistance to children from needy families, around Githunguri in Kiambu County, who regularly dropped out of school for lack of school fees and has grown from supporting an initial 6 students in 2002 to 373 beneficiaries in 2013. Up to 140 of this group had completed their secondary education at the time the study was conducted. Another 233 are enrolled in 80 of Kenya’s premier secondary schools. The study specifically aimed at establishing how the nature and profile of sponsors, the reputation of the foundation, and the relationship between the leadership and management affect the performance of the Palmhouse Foundation. The study was significant in that it provides insights that can help Palmhouse Foundation understand what strengths it should build on as well as what weaknesses to address. The study adopted a conceptual framework and followed descriptive research design – specifically the Case Study technique. It targeted all the employees, trustees and management of Palmhouse Foundation and conducted a census. Primary data was obtained by use of a questionnaire while secondary data was obtained by use of libraries, journals, organisational reports as well as the World Wide Web. The study found that the determination of the founders to make lasting social impact underlies the establishment of private philanthropic organisations. Success of the organisations is closely correlated with the quality of leadership, financial accountability and the profile of sponsors. The study makes fiscal and public policy proposals that would spur the development and growth of private philanthropies.