South Africa boasts a rich history of philanthropic giving, from both corporates and individuals alike. In the past, it has generally been unstructured, and although stemming from good motives, has lacked strategic goals and sustainability, thus diminishing its effectiveness and long-term impact.
With the advent of the King Report on Corporate Governance and an ever-greater understanding of the real needs in South Africa’s emerging economy, a more strategic and sustainable approach has been adopted by businesses and individuals, focusing on a better integrated and collective response to exert a greater and further-reaching impact on clearly specified outcomes.

Jean de Villiers, head of philanthropy at Citadel, says there are many generous corporates and individuals who have the means and would like to make contributions to worthy causes, however, they are deterred from doing so due to the lack of time or expertise to do so effectively.

“In a country where so many are sceptical of corruption, many have been deterred from making contributions to worthy causes due to the bad press about fraudulent Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) that have been involved in corrupt activities, been used to launder money or even fund terrorist activities,” says De Villiers.

To reclaim the positive reputation that philanthropic giving should have, the Citadel Philanthropy Foundation believes that transparency is key. “By using a trusted organisation to facilitate your donations, a person has peace of mind knowing that their hard-earned money is going to make the biggest social impact per Rand,” says De Villiers.

Think bigger than a handout

Attitudes to giving have changed from merely providing handouts to creating hope, opportunities and sustainable solutions, but donors have every right to want peace of mind about where their contributions are going and how they will be used to benefit the intended recipients.

“People are aware that simply giving handouts does not solve the actual problems. It is by giving sustainably that solutions are found and permanent change can begin. If I give someone R10 at the traffic lights, it is an immediate yet temporary solution to solving his/her hunger.

“While this is still important, we must consider how much bigger the impact would be if we get the individual signed up with a feeding scheme or upskilled for employment opportunities, both of which would be far more beneficial in the long term,” says de Villiers.

De Villiers adds that there is considerably more emphasis on responsible and strategic management of funds in the sector directed at specifically defined aims. “Rather than giving to randomly selected charities and institutions, we are focussing on those organisations that have a proven track record, to create maximum impact and strengthen their hand to achieve even more,” de Villiers adds.

Use professionals to vet organisations on your behalf

Organisations such as the Citadel Philanthropy Foundation provide strategic guidance so that donations are channelled to organisations through structured, sustainable investing. All charities and institutions are thoroughly vetted to ensure that the necessary Public Benefit Organisation or Non-Profit Organisation documents are in order, that they are tax compliant, that one can review their financials and impact reports and that a site visit is undertaken to see the initiatives in action.

This is a revolutionary approach to giving, allowing initial donors to social development programmes to unlock exponential growth. The ambition is to break the habit of charitable dependency, and sustainably strengthen the South African economy for all its citizens.

Anyone can start giving today, with any amount

“In a country with so many challenges, there should be no minimum donation amounts for any charitable organisation. It is our philosophy that every donation counts and, once judiciously applied, can make a huge difference where it is most needed,” explains de Villiers.

After yet another trying year for most, de Villiers encourages the public to dig a bit deeper this festive season. “You are never too young or old to start creating your legacy and giving to others in the most sustainable and meaningful way is a great way to do so,” de Villiers concludes.

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