Gerald at home in his Killarney apartment. Photo taken by Hakima Abbas during the January 2013 donor tour that Gerald organized for the Other Foundation.
Gerald at home in his Killarney apartment. Photo taken by Hakima Abbas during the January 2013 donor tour that Gerald organized for the Other Foundation.

Gerald Kraak passed away on 19 October 2014. Carla Sutherland, a founding board member of the Other Foundation and friend of Gerald’s, pays tribute to him on behalf of the Other Foundation.

Gerald first talked about establishing a community foundation to ensure the sustainability of LGBTI work in South Africa more than ten years ago.  We’ve got to think ahead, he used to urge.  What’s going to happen when Atlantic and other international donors leave?  It was hard to get activists to focus on an imagined crisis a decade away when they already had their heads fully engaged in contemporary ones.  But Gerald doggedly pursued it, with increasing urgency as he led the process of Atlantic’s spend down and exit in South Africa.  He hired great consultants and strategists, who criss crossed the country and the globe to transform his vision into a pragmatic project.  He carefully managed the complicated politics of a small sector with too few resources to get people behind a unified idea.  He used all his years of experience as a grant maker to mould a proposal that matched a distant Board’s legitimate concerns about fiscal responsibility with the demands of a principled political movement.  And he also fiercely rose to the challenge to demonstrate that the proposed foundation could demonstrate a capacity to raise funds beyond international institutional donors. 

We were friends first, but also colleagues on the Global Philanthropy Project (GPP) which brought together institutional donors who were funding LGBTI human rights work in the global South.  In partnership with GPP, Gerald pressed ahead with an ambitious agenda to bring a range of high net-worth individuals to South Africa to experience for themselves the creativity, energy and commitment of activists in the Southern African region who were working to advance the rights and well-being of LGBTI people, in the most hostile of contexts.  I don’t think any of us truly understood the amount of work that Gerald, supported by his dedicated and wonderful colleague Jann Otto in South Africa and Katherine Pease in the United States, did to pull off the tour.  The 17 participants from the US and Europe were able to meet with more than 70 activists from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana and Namibia.  They met with refugee organizations in the informal settlements of Cape Town; heard about the wider challenges of gender based violence and how it linked to LGBTI rights; saw the range of cultural work and religious outreach that was happening in even the most remote of rural areas; learnt about the impact of strategic litigation and the challenges of advocacy and educational outreach; and spoke intimately with South African icons like Edwin Cameron and Cheryl Carolus.  And at the end of the tour, we had pledges of more than 3 million rands that provided the necessary demonstration for the vision of the foundation to move forward. 

But the demands of the tour, that Gerald so wanted to be the success that it was, took a huge toll on him.  In retrospect, it’s clear that he was already very ill by that stage.  One of the final grants that he presented to the Board of Atlantic Philanthropies was for $5 million for the establishment and start up of the Other Foundation.  It was grant that he took enormous pleasure and quiet pride in.  Not for himself – but for the recognition of the importance of the work of the sector.  He sometimes worried that people would think that his dedication came from the fact that he was gay.  I would have done this even if I had been straight, he would lament.  When Atlantic was setting up, he said, our brief was to find the most pressing human rights issues in the country that were being overlooked.  It was clear from all the consultations and research that we did that LGBTI people were amongst the most marginalized and stigmatized.  I believe him.  He paid easily as much attention to his other priority areas – particularly refugees and migrants.  And even in those areas he worked beyond purely professional boundaries, as shown by his collection of Zimbabwean art works, that he purchased primarily to support individual refugees struggling to survive in South Africa.

Darlings! We did it! He announced to Phumi Mtetwa and I, after the founding Board of the Other Foundation had constituted itself, close to ten years after he had first conceived of the idea.  Bloody nearly killed us – but we did it, he said as we sat in his flat in Killarney over a celebratory glass (or three) of whiskey.  His ‘we’ was generous.  I can’t speak for Phumi, but I know I would never have had the tenacity to see it through all the hurdles he encountered, or the self-conviction to push through the criticisms.  Every set back was met with a commitment to find a creative way around it; every barb with a gentle shrug of the shoulders and an empathy about where it might have came from.  His greatest delight, however, was reserved for our first round of grant-making.  He loved the range of proposals that came in; he was so excited about the possibilities of new work and approaches; he was energized particularly by the cultural and research work proposed.  Of course, he wanted to fund them all. 

It seems so incredibly unfair that he won’t be here to see his vision flower into all that it will be.  It will be different from what he imagined:  but he knew that and celebrated it, as he believed that all the best projects flourish when they are supported by grant makers who can risk managing with a very light touch. 

He had so many plans that he was looking forward to post Atlantic:  finishing his second novel; writing up a history of the LGBTI movement in South Africa; looking at how social movements are developing amongst young people in the Western Cape; becoming an expert bird watcher; finding the love of his life to grow old with.  Sweetie, he would say, if you were a gay man I would marry you!  Nonsense, I would snort.  If I were a gay man you would want me to look like an olympic swimmer, speak five languages, understand Mahler while knowing all the words of every Abba hit; be willing to dance with you to ‘It’s Raining Men’; and be able to be as comfortable in a refugee camp as in a 3 star Michelin restaurant in Provence.   He’s out there, I would say.  But he’s not going to appear until you’re willing to make time to let him in. 

In the end, Gerald made a different set of choices.  He dedicated himself to making his South Africa a better place for all of us.  He did it with all the love and passion and commitment that he might have given to a lover and a partner.  I’m saddened by that personal cost but know that he led the life that he wanted, had enormous pleasure in doing it, and I’m proud of the legacy he’s left.  I feel privileged to have worked with him and contributed to some of the projects he cared deeply about.  I loved him dearly.  And I will miss him always.

Gerald (4th from the left in the top row) and Carla (2nd from the left in the front row) with participants in the January 2013 donor tour that he organized for the Other Foundation.
Gerald (4th from the left in the top row) and Carla (2nd from the left in the front row) with participants in the January 2013 donor tour that he organized for the Other Foundation.



Our Mission

The Other Foundation is an African trust dedicated to advancing human rights in Southern Africa, with a particular focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. Our primary purpose is to expand resources available to defend and advance the rights and well-being of LGBTI people in the Southern African region. We do this by working both as a grant-maker and a fundraiser. Read our full mission statement here. The Atlantic Philanthropies has provided a generous start-up grant over a five-year period to cover all operational costs, subject to the Foundation being able to raise additional funds from other sources. More information about how we started can be found here.

Our Grant-Making

The Foundation is pleased to announce the outcomes of its inaugural round of grant making. The Foundation allocated 32 grants, totaling around ZAR3.1 million, for work that will advance the rights and improve the well-being of LGBTI people in Southern Africa. Organisations and individuals were given grants ranging from ZAR10,000 to ZAR500,000. Click here to see a full list of grants that were allocated. The Foundation wanted its first grant making initiative to be a truly transparent and participatory process. Rather than consider grant proposals entirely on its own, the foundation’s board asked the public to nominate a panel of peer reviewers to help review and assess grant applications. The 12 peer reviewers chosen formed a diverse group from six countries in southern Africa. They worked in four teams, each facilitated by a board member, to decide which projects to recommend for funding. This gave meaningful expression to the identity of the Other Foundation as an LGBTI community foundation. Click here to see who the peer reviewers were in the grant making process. Click here to see a report about the development, implementation, and outcomes of this unique grant making process. The report will be of interest to foundations and philanthropists interested in more accountable and transparent ways of making grants.

Vacancies: Call for Applications

The Foundation is looking for a diverse selection of talented, self motivated, innovative, highly skilled, and well-networked southern African people with a commitment to excellence and a proven track record in the fields of social justice, human rights, and philanthropy to appoint to the following positions: Head of Programmes: The successful candidate will lead, manage, and take responsibility for the conceptualization and effective development, planning, and implementation of programmes that give expression to the mission and purpose of the Foundation across a wide range of content areas. Public Engagement Manager: The successful candidate will be responsible for coordinating the Foundation’s public fundraising campaign and other special projects that may arise from time to time, such as donor tours. Finance Manager: The successful candidate will ensure the provision of a high quality of high level financial management services.   Interested candidates should email a letter of motivation and a curriculum vitae with the names and contact details of three referees to clearly indicating the position for which you are applying in the email subject line. The closing date for applications is Friday, 7 November 2014. The Foundation is based in Johannesburg. All posts are contract based. The ability to communicate in English is a requirement. The ability to communicate in French and/or Portuguese as well will give candidates an advantage. Find out more at The Foundation reserves the right not to make any appointments to fill the advertised vacancies. Click here to read the full call for applications

Our Fund Raising

The funds for the pilot grant-making initiative have come from personal gifts from 18 individual donors who visited South Africa early this year to find out more about the amazing work that activists are doing to defend and advance the rights of LGBTI people in Southern Africa. The Atlantic Philanthropies matched the funds raised from this donor tour, providing tOF with close to ZAR4 million to give out as small grants to individuals and organisations across Southern Africa.   More information about the Southern African donor tour can be found here. We will be launching a range of fundraising initiatives in 2014. All funds that are raised will go to programming and grant-making as our operational costs are fully covered by the Atlantic Philanthropies for the next five years.

Your Questions

We would love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments. Answers to some frequently asked questions about the Other Foundation are answered here. Please contact us either by email, phone, or letter. Details of how to do that are on our Contact Us page.