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EPIC-Africa - The African CSO Excellence Awards Movemeback African initiative cover image


The African CSO Excellence Awards is a joint initiative between EPIC-Africa and the Rockefeller Foundation. The Awards highlight the importance of organizational capacity to achieve program impact. The African CSO Excellence Awards reward organizations that demonstrate excellence across eight key elements of organizational capacity: Strategic Ability and Adaptability, Leadership and Governance, Financial Health and Management, Human Resources and Staff Development, Operations, Communications, Partnerships and Alliances, Monitoring and Evaluation.

To apply for the African CSO Excellence Awards, you only need to complete the online application form. You will be asked to upload a few documents as you complete the application form. It is advisable to have these documents ready before you begin filling out the form to facilitate the process. Although not all documents are required, you are strongly encouraged to share as many of them as possible. Doing so demonstrates transparency and accountability which helps to strengthen your organization’s credibility.


  • Certificate of Registration (Proof of legal registration is required to be eligible to apply for the awards)
  • Current strategic plan
  • Human resources manual or other staff development policies
  • Most recent audited financial statement
  • Financial management procedures or policies
  • Communications strategy
  • Most recent annual report

We strongly encourage you to share as many of these documents as possible. Sharing helps to demonstrate your transparency and increase your score in the relevant category as we are better able to assess your application.

The selection process consists of three steps:

Step 1: All applicants will be ranked according to their score across the 8 categories of assessment to produce a shortlist of 90 CSOs.

Step 2: The top five CSOs from each category will advance to a shortlist of 45 and undergo a more thorough assessment including interviews, reference checks and where feasible, site visits.

Step 3: A panel of experts from the philanthropy sector will select the top 9 winners.


All legally registered not-for-profit, or other classification of social purpose organization, founded and led by Africans, composed in majority of African staff and working on major challenges impacting Africa are able to apply. Under this definition, international NGOs operating in Africa are not eligible for the Awards but their local partners who fit this description are encouraged to apply. 


Your organization will get an opportunity to fundraise on the international GlobalGiving Platform with a series of capacity building workshops for 3 members of staff. 

You will get media visibility and networking opportunities through the African CSO Excellence Awards community. 

The Awards also offer your organization the chance to:

  • Assess your organizational capacity.
  • Receive a confidential capacity diagnostic report to help benchmark your organization.
  • Increase your visibility to local and international funders.
  • Increase your credibility by demonstrating transparency and accountability.

About EPIC-Africa

EPIC-Africa seeks to enhance philanthropic impact by filling critical data and capacity gaps in the philanthropic market infrastructure in Africa. Our work helps to propel African civil society organizations to higher standards of performance, accountability, and transparency while inspiring greater local legitimacy and support. 

We envisage a vibrant philanthropic ecosystem with diverse, influential, sustainable African civil society groups at the center. EPIC-Africa contributes to this transformative vision by enabling: Greater visibility, increased resources, widespread communication, more diversified and steady funding, transparency, accountability and a resilient ecosystem

We harness the power of data and technology to help to build a solid infrastructure for philanthropy in Africa. Our experience of philanthropy in Africa has taught us that organizational effectiveness is key to sustainable program impact. We believe that by providing information and resources that strengthen African CSOs, we can see even more successful programs from African CSOs and tangible changes to the lives of Africans across the continent.

  1. Compile data: The African CSO Index provides data on the sector, fosters collaboration and helps to grow the African philanthropic ecosystem. The index tracks, compares, and ranks CSOs across 7 measures of organizational capacity and effectiveness, making it cheaper and easier for funders to find grantee organizations.
  2. Capacity diagnosis and planning: Our approach to capacity building is unique in that: (1) it is embedded in a framework and standards carefully tailored to fit the realities of African CSOs; and (2) it integrates capacity building with program strategy, rather than treating it as separate from and secondary to programming.
  3. Customized Due Diligence and other advisory services: We undertake more in depth vetting of individual CSOs or cohorts of CSOs and recommend grantees to funders. Our advisory services enable funders to not only find the most credible groups but also to structure grants in ways that best support grantee capacity and sustainability.
  4. Interpreting the philanthropic landscape: We produce commissioned and noncommissioned knowledge products (reports, country or sector mappings, capacity audits) that contribute to and enrich knowledge about African CSOs and more broadly the African philanthropic ecosystem.