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Guided by our board mandate of conservation and animal welfare as defined in the Deed of Trust, we provide catalytic financial support to strategic initiatives, leveraged through collaboration and partnerships.

What we fund

We fund in the areas of conservation and animal welfare. With limited resources we concentrate all our efforts and resources into supporting a single, strategic-level, intervention, which is dynamic and complex and has the potential to catalyse systemic change. Via a process of stakeholder engagement and research we identify a priority focus area and work with multiple partners to co-develop and co-create collaborative solutions.

We do not accept unsolicited applications.

We currently have two funded programmes:

Greenmatter Animal Welfare

The world is waking up to the fact that our natural resources are finite. Our push for more, bigger and better has led us to a point where our planet's ability to sustain us is being questioned. The recognition that economic growth cannot be at the expense of our ecosystems and that South Africa's almost unparalleled biodiversity wealth, has significant potential to support income generation, job creation and sustain human development, is reflected in South Africa's Medium Term Strategic Framework. Ministerial Performance Agreements also include the protection of environmental assets and natural resources.

Fundamental to delivering on these imperatives however, is a skilled workforce.

The need to strategically and comprehensively strengthen and diversify human capital to enable South Africa to manage its biodiversity resources is recognised in the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2005) and the National Biodiversity Framework (2007). Mandated to lead this process is the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). Yet in 2008, during a process of stakeholder engagement, to identitfy focus areas for Lewis funding, it was clear that higher level biodiversity skills and human capital development for biodiversity was poorly capacitated. Lewis began to consider it as a potential area of focus for the Foundation.

Lewis and SANBI embarked on exploratory discussions and the result was that two organisations with similar visions, came together to create a public private partnership to tackle the daunting task of how to develop a skilled workforce that would power a sustainable growth path for South Africa.

An innovative, brilliant strategy was required. The first step was to commission the Human Sciences Research Council to undertake a sectoral analysis. This was closely followed by the appointment of Prof. Eureta Rosenberg, who possessed a unique and scarce combination of skills: Expertise in Human Capital Development, environmental education, biodiversity and an in-depth knowledge of the players and dynamics in the sector. Underpinned by the HSRC research, Prof Rosenberg embarked on comprehensive stakeholder engagement process and in 2010, to significant acclaim, the Human Capital Development Strategy for Biodiversity (BHCDS) was published.

The strategy was developed at the same time as the Environmental Sector Skills Plan (ESSP), under the auspices of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), as well as the Department of Science and Technologies (DST) Global Grand Challenge HCD Strategy, and is therefore nationally aligned. Other strategies that support the human capital development vision include the Training and Education Strategy for the Water Sector and WWF-SA's HCD Strategy for Natural Resource Management. All these strategies highlight the need for sector wide platforms to deliberate the common challenges in the HCD pipeline and to collectively work on solutions.

The strategy forms the core of the subsequent implementing programme, known as GreenMatter. Once again it was co-hosted via a partnership between SANBI and Lewis, but built on the many partners brought on board during the strategy development. The launch of GreenMatter in 2010 coincided with the Government’s Economic Cluster's first Green Economy Summit. The aim was to map out a green growth pathway that creates jobs while reducing pollution and using South Africa’s natural resources wisely.

With GreenMatter going into its 6th year of implementation, it has become a core component in the development of a vibrant South African economy that will provide the skills and expertise to unlock the economic potential our unique biodiversity offers.

Lewis is working with SANBI, the GreenMatter core team and the implementing partners on a sustainability plan for how GreenMatter achieves autonomy and financial independence from the Foundation.

Based on our strategic principle of 'Implementing through partners with which high autonomy and high trust relationships are developed' Lewis is always seeking partnerships to support and grow GreenMatter. The Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, the Harry Crossley Foundation and the Mapula Foundation fund the GreenMatter Fellowship. The DG Murray Trust funded GreenMatter’s leadership research, and The Murray and Roberts Foundation the pilot phase of what is now known as the Fundisa for Change Programme. These are just a few of the strategic collaborations that leverage Lewis's spend and impact and enable us to stay true to our commitment to be catalytic.

Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare

Lizette Lewis was passionate about animal welfare and supported the NSPCA all her life. In line with the Trust Deed we will continue to support animal welfare programmes. To align our animal welfare disbursements with our strategic framework we are currently reviewing this focus area in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. If you are interested in engaging in this conversation please contact Lindy.

"We are constantly looking at how we can bring together innovative thinkers and opinion leaders to explore ways to harness our strategic advantage and collective strength to become powerful forces for change in South Africa"

By its nature private philanthropy is unstructured and informal and the interventions it chooses to support are often based on the individual philanthropist’s passions and interests. Similarly, although subject to more regulation corporate philanthropy in the form of corporate foundations and corporate social investment (CSI), is fragmented, not widely regarded as visionary or strategic and is frequently viewed as an extension of corporate marketing or public relations activities. In both of these ‘sectors’ strategic visioning, partnerships and collaborations are uncommon and joint ventures between corporates and private philanthropy are rare. As a result our impact is far smaller than it could or should be.

If philanthropy is to make any meaningful contribution in a world characterized by greater global complexity, international crises and serious environmental risks; we are going to have to consider our collective influence and potential impact as asset holders. We will have to make a far greater effort to understand the world around us, and the dramatic shifts that are constantly taking place. We will have to move from merely reacting to change, to striving to anticipate what is yet to come. It is going to require transformative new thinking and approaches to dealing with this increasing complexity.

Seeding Collaboration between Asset Holders

In recent years the benefits of harnessing our collective strengths have been widely acknowledged and debated. But there is a dearth of systemic, strategic vision and an absence of platforms and tools to facilitate collective impact and to work with partners beyond the boundaries of the NGO community. In association with a number of private and corporate philanthropists the Foundation hosted an event in May 2014 titled Seeding Strategic Collaboration. Represented were; 21 philanthropic Foundation; 20 Corporate Foundations or CSI funds and a sprinkling of interested parties such as Treasury, the IDC, and the Department of Basic Education. Clem Sunter opened with the key note address and the remainder of the workshop focused on if there was an appetite and need for collaboration between philanthropic and corporate donors and if so how to go about fostering it. The majority of participants indicated an interest in taking the conversation further as reported in the Seeding Strategic Collaboration Report. Last year a Framework for Donor Collaboration was drawn up and is available for comment. 2 case studies, one being the Lewis Foundation - SANBI collaboration are highlighted in the report.

The Independent Philanthropy Association of South Africa ( IPASA)

IPASA an independent forum of individual philanthropists, local trusts and foundations. Its mission is to build private philanthropy in South Africa; to create a community of private local foundations and philanthropists; and to contribute towards the creation of a philanthropic movement in the country.
Key objectives of IPASA
• Raise awareness of social giving in SA by bringing together South African philanthropists and those working in the private grant making sector to explore how to grow the sector in the country.
• Explore the practice of good grant making and develop mechanisms to enhance the practice in the local context.
• Produce and disseminate knowledge about South African private grant making to the general public in order to encourage good practice and to grow the community of grant makers.
• Gain recognition from government for the philanthropic sector as a key partner.
Lewis has been a member of the PPC since 2012. It has proved to be an invaluable platform to foster partnerships and collaborations. The relationships formed here underpin partnerships we have formed around the GreenMatter Programme.

What next

Through its founding support for GreenMatter, the Lewis Foundation is achieving its goal of catalysing a systemic national initiative and leveraging the Foundation's limited resources. Implicit in the word catalyse is the notion that the catalysing force makes way for the driving force. For this 20 year strategy to play out GreenMatter must be adopted, championed and steered by the network of partners it benefits. The time is coming for GreenMatter to make the transition from childhood to young adulthood. Lewis and the co-founding partner SANBI, have embarked on a carefully considered organisational review that will guide GreenMatter's transition to the network of partners and supporters it serves.

Lewis, while remaining committed to its protégé, is also embarking on a new and exciting journey - a process of consultation to assess what next is in store for us. Our preliminary horizon scanning indicates a significant interest by players in business, philanthropy, civil society and the public sector in how we apply our collective skills and thinking, as effectively as we did in the run up to our transition to a democracy, to developing a just, prosperous, sustainable economy. Over the next few months we will be analysing the external environment and engaging key existing and potentially new stakeholders to try and get to grips with what this means and where, if at all, Lewis could play any meaningful role.