MAGI’s vision is of a South Africa in which Community Based Organisations are able to meet the needs of their members and contribute to building a society characterised by equality, fairness, dignity and justice, in which the state and the private sector meet their social obligations and inequality is incrementally addressed.


MAGI’S mission is to bring donors together on a collaborative basis to provide financial and capacity building support to community organisations in marginalised and disadvantaged communities so that they are better able to collaborate with NGOs, provide services and represent their members in seeking active realisation of their human rights and thereby to contribute to positive social change. MAGI’s particular mission is to specialise in the cost-effective delivery of relatively small grants to the community-based sector of civil society.

MAGI Theory of Change:

The voice and agency of marginalised communities is strengthened and democracy is deepened.

Values guiding the functioning of MAGI

  • Collaboration is key to strengthened impact and adds value to the development process
  • Recognition of the power differential between donors and the grantees
  • Maximising efficiencies among participating donors and strengthening the effectiveness of respective partnerships with CBOs
  • Following a rights-based approach to development
  • Taking an asset based approach to community development
  • Using creative ways to elevate the voices of communities
  • A collective commitment to address all forms of inequality
  • Flexibility and continuous adjustment is key to the effective functioning of MAGI


The Multi-Agency Grants Initiative (MAGI) is a developmental grant-making mechanism currently comprising the RAITH Foundation, C.S. Mott Foundation, Ford Foundation, HIVOS, Atlantic Philanthropies, Open Society Foundation SA and Tshikululu Social Investments. MAGI’s primary role is to contribute towards strengthening the active voice and agency of local communities in shaping their own development, alongside other critical role players in government and civil society.
  • MAGI provides direct support to community based organisations (CBOs), as well as less formalised community structures, including national campaigns that impact rural and marginalised urban based women, men, girls and boys
  • MAGI will support CBO participation in broader national campaigns and processes particularly where alliances are built with NGO partners
  • It plays a convening and learning facilitation role around critical issues that arise from time to time between participating donors
  • Facilitates partnerships and rapid responsiveness around key strategic issues impacting on the lives and livelihoods of local communities
  • Through capacity development interventions MAGI contributes towards strengthening the capacity of local CBOs to enhance their strategic agency, voice and operations at a local level and
  • Strengthening the link between CBOs and NGOs
MAGI is managed by the HIVOS South Africa office. An Advisory Committee comprising some of the participating donors and at times identified individuals with particular relevant expertise, plays a strategic oversight role.


MAGI makes grants nationally but prioritises support depending on the need and context.


The overall thematic focus area is on deepening democracy in South Africa. Sub-themes:
  • Access to justice incl. socio-economic and cultural rights
  • Access to services and local economic development (creation of an enabling environment for sustainable livelihoods)
  • Social cohesion – initiatives that address drivers of inequality, gender based violence and other forms of violence

Grant-making guidelines:

  • A maximum of R250 000 per annum
  • Repeat grants can be made but not automatic
  • Out of cycle grants can be made where necessary
  • Ring fencing of funds subject to Advisory Committee agreement
  • Active engagement on exiting the relationship with grantees
  • MAGI seeks to align and link support of CBOs to thematic and geographic areas where donors are supporting related work by NGOs


  • November 2015: Residents of houses on a state farm in Stellenbosch are challenging eviction notices they received earlier this year. MAGI covered the costs of transport for the farm workers and supporters to travel to the Cape Town High Court. Read more here.

  • Grantees must be community based.
  • Groups and organisations must be constituted and have a written constitution.
  • The groups must demonstrate that some activities have taken place successfully.
  • Applicants must demonstrate a community contribution either volunteer time, funds or material. A value must be attributed to this.
  • There must be a clear outline of the participation of women in leadership and decision making, as well as the specific outcomes for women in terms of empowerment and benefits (where applicable).
  • There must be a clear demonstration that the project is operating in an area of identified needs.
  • Benefits to the community must be clearly defined.

We Support

  • Institutional costs subject to an appraisal by the project officer and the approval of the allocations committee
  • Capacity building and training
  • Direct programme and activity costs
  • Workshops
  • Events
  • Small infrastructure development
  • Exchange visits and peer learning
  • Small items of equipment
  • One off events related to any of the above sectors
We Do NotSupport

  • Bursaries
  • Individual educare institutions
  • Individual entrepreneurs to establish businesses
  • Loans, individual or otherwise