South Africans give more than a third (35%) of their income to family, friends and members of their communities or charities.This is according to Charities Aid Foundation’s (CAF) Growing Giving in South Africa report, released in February 2020, which measures generosity behaviours in South Africa. The findings make it quite clear that despite financial pressures, people still want to give to those in need. The report looked at behaviours such as giving cash, volunteering and helping strangers.
‘Interestingly, The CAF World Giving Index 10th Anniversary Report, released in October 2019, found that the gap in giving between the Global North and the Global South has narrowed, and that proportionally, those with less typically give more,’ says Gill Bates, CEO of Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa (CAFSA). ‘Africa is a fundamentally generous continent, according to the research – in all likelihood, driven by our Ubuntu philosophy.’
According to the Growing Giving in South Africa report:
- Awareness of active, formal charitable organisations was high amongst South Africans at 75%. In total, 61% of those surveyed said they had supported a charity in the last twelve months.
- Giving money is the most common way of providing support to charitable organisations, with 74% choosing to give in monetary form.
- After money, the second most common form of support among those who gave to charitable organisations was giving food or goods in kind (70%). Over half had volunteered or given time to a charitable organisation.
- Most respondent, at 85%, agreed that charitable organisations in South Africa are effective in solving problems in society and that donating to charitable organisations makes an important difference in our country.
However, there is no doubt that the South African non-profit sector has seen a decline in revenues coupled with an increase in the demand for services due to the pandemic.
In May and July, CAFSA launched a series of surveys that looked closely at support for NPOs in South Africa during the pandemic. In one survey, 20 NPOs responded and revealed that government measures had not enabled them to access new sources of funding or made it easy for them to respond in the crisis. Among the 20 charities that participated, there was strong agreement that government measures had, in fact, made it more difficult to respond.
‘Similar surveys were also administered by our CAF Global Alliance partners in different geographies, and the results and findings were very similar and alarming.’
Gill says NPOs and NGOs need to earn the trust of people who are in a position to donate a portion of their hard-earned money. ‘Now, more than ever before, non-profit organisations need to
- promote the important work they are doing
- increase their public profile and
- be more transparent in their work
– if they are to overcome issues of public trust and attract more donations while retaining existing donors.’
South Africa continues to have one of the highest Gini coefficients (a statistical measure of economic inequality) in the world. With spiralling levels of starvation, particularly child starvation, and rising unemployment and poverty levels, civil society, as one of the core pillars of South Africa, must be strengthened. The most marginalised and vulnerable groups and communities in South Africa need them now as never before.
‘While South Africa might be the second strongest economy on the African continent [after Nigeria], challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment remain. We need robust and trusted civil society organisations and advocates who can run with the baton and ensure that South Africa’s poorest – our most vulnerable groups and communities – have a voice in our society.
‘The pressing needs, exacerbated by the pandemic, have resulted in an outpouring of assistance, especially in relation to foodstuffs and PPE. Emergency funds have also been established to respond to the crisis, as was also the case for us – we launched our own Covid-19 Emergency Fund.’
CAFSA’s Give As You Earn Programme enables them to distribute unrestricted funding into civil society on a monthly basis – something worth considering, as the organisation is trusted and established.
In addition, they’re deeply involved in research on social giving and philanthropy. ‘We participate in the CAF Global Alliance, disseminating research which informs best practice in the philanthropy space. Through our Validations and Due Diligence process, CAFSA has compiled a database of NPOs that may be eligible to receive donations from both local and international funders. We continue to advocate for emergency and on-going support for the non-profit sector.’
CAFSA is one of the few organisations that both channels funding to where it is most needed in South Africa, and performs the valuable role of developing and sharing international best practice in CSI. It is the adoption of best practice – particularly over the long term – that will enable the South African CSI sector to act as true partners in development, rather than simply sources of funding.