In South Africa ordinary citizens believe that their giving can make South Africa a better place for all

dutoit_300By Colleen du Toit

CAF Southern Africa, a member of the CAF Global Alliance has published a pilot study exploring the giving behaviour of individuals living in Gauteng, the most populous of South Africa’s nine provinces. The goal of the research was to understand what, how and why ‘ordinary people’ give and volunteer, and to use this information as a basis for further work on whether such contributions can be more effectively organised and used in the resource mobilisation of civil society organisations.

I Believe My Help Can Make A Difference was the main motivation for the personal generosity provided by respondents to the survey. Over 90% of respondents reported giving or volunteering during the three months prior to the survey; 94% gave goods, 85% donated money, and 56% volunteered. The high incidence of giving and volunteering by ‘ordinary people’ in Gauteng suggests that they are motivated and committed to helping one another in order to make South Africa a better place for everyone. The report carries a clear message to the nation: “I believe I can make a difference in both the present and the future for my fellow citizens, my community and my country”. At the time of this survey diversity found unity in the act of giving.

The potential benefits of this giving for civil society are not yet fully realised. While results show a high prevalence of communal care in poor communities, they also illuminate support provided to both larger non-profit and community-based organisations. The findings suggest that organisations could potentially attract far more support from individual donors than is currently the case. South Africa’s non-profit sector, currently facing withdrawal of international funding, could capture increased support from individual donors through improved communication that highlights good governance and the impact of their work on social transformation.

The important local traditions of solidarity reflected in this study form the bedrock upon which a strong national culture of philanthropy may be expanded. At its most strategic, philanthropy is a dynamic process that contributes to lasting change in societies. Findings show that there is fertile ground where organisations can work with like-minded individuals to institutionalise their giving. The phrase “I believe I can make a difference”, chosen by the majority of survey respondents as their chief motivator, is clearly indicative of philanthropic aspirations that reach beyond charity.

Colleen du Toit is CEO of CAF Southern Africa. Download the CAF Southern Africa report, I Believe I Can Make A Difference, from the WINGS Knowledge Center.

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