One and a half million people gave their time and energy to volunteer projects last year
The non-profit sector is a major economic force in South Africa. It employs more people than the mining sector or the government – and its size and significance are far greater that previously thought.
This has emerged from groundbreaking research conducted by the Graduate School of Public and Development Management at the University of Witwatersrand in co – operation with Social Surveys.
It is anticipated that the findings will change government and corporate attitudes towards this sector.
“We hope that the new statistics will inform the government policy on income tax, funding and governance of the NPO sector,” says Penny, who manages the Non-Profit Partnership’s legislative and fiscal monitoring programme.
The results also pose new challenges to the corporate sector in terms of ongoing research and to those responsible for the development of appropriate post–graduate qualifications for disciplines specific to the sector.
In 1998 the NPO sector mobilized resources worth R13,2 billion and spent R9,3 billion, which was 1,2 percent of the nation’s GDP.The government contributed R5,8 billion, a percentage higher than most countries, but the bulk of this did not reach the poorest of the poor, most went to urban working class and middle-class communities. R4,9 billion went to social services, R2,1 billion went to social services, R1,7 went to health and R1,1 billion was spent on development and housing.
South Africa has larger NPO sector than all but a handful of developed countries. Close to 1,5 million volunteers gave time and energy to NPO last year.
“Until now too many leaders and other public sector agencies have viewed civil society as simply an expenditure and not a significant generator of revenues. “We are optimistic that the findings will lead to the more amenable creation of an enabling tax environment for NPOs,” says Penny.