• My Time In Brazil

    My experience with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), as many others I am sure, began with a desire to do more than just live for myself, as a desire to give back to the community. But what I did not expect was the desire and passion that would follow. 

    Nearing the end of my studies in 2012 I had the desire to put myself outside of my comfort zone and also do something that would be for the benefit of someone other than myself. 

    Having heard about ABBA, from a friend who works as a missionary with them, and with a slightly more selfish motive of going there would give me the opportunity to finally learn Portuguese, I decided to apply to volunteer with them. My application was accepted and two months later at the start of July 2013, I arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil. When I arrived I was put to work straight away, but not with the kids, I had some physical labour to do; from painting walls and cleaning swimming pools, to driving around with non English speaking co-workers to collect donations. A week after I arrived, I was informed that the project I had initially applied to volunteer at had closed for the time being as all the young boys who were staying there had returned home. Subsequently I joined one of their other projects, a prevention project, Casa Semear, that is situated in the middle of three favelas (slums). Casa Semear is structured in such a way to allow the children to attend whenever they are not at school. They provide entertainment for the children in the form of arts and crafts, games and the weekly bible study. 

    During my five months of volunteering with ABBA and Casa Semear I was privileged to attend two camps, each for different age groups and a trip to the Sao Paulo Zoo where we took the youngsters aged four to six. The camps came with a great opportunity for the kids to leave their adult responsibilities in the favelas and have fun the way children should. It was an opportunity for me to get to know the children better and for them to learn to trust me and open up about their lives a little bit. 

    Although there was a lot of fun to be had there were moments of sadness as well.  Hearing of and visiting the homes of some of the children in the favelas made poverty a reality for me, not just a horrible story I hear about. I hear of how the childrens' homes are flooded as a result of heavy rains, of rats that walk in their homes and seeing a family of five or six sharing one bedroom. There are also stories of children who became involved in the drug trafficking in the favelas as well as threats being placed on the children and the missionaries working in those areas. Five siblings who attend Casa Semear had lost their mother in a drug related confrontation and are facing the hardships of the favela without any parents. 

    My time in Brazil brought about so many opportunities for me to grow, to realise the realities and the hardships facing the NGOs and missionaries all over the world. I met such amazing individuals and families that have such a desire to see a change in the lives of those that are struggling to get their lives together and it created such a passion within me to be a part of their efforts wherever I find myself. 

    Should you want to find out more about any of these organisations, refer to the following:     - By Michael Allen
  • NMF Calls Volunteers on Mandela’s Birthday

    The Nelson Mandela Foundation is hoping that volunteers around the world will donate 67 minutes of their time when South Africa's former president turns 95 on 18 July 2013.

    Mandela remained hospitalised in critical but stable condition for a recurring lung infection from 8 June 2013.

    The foundation's Twitter feed is asking people to join in the volunteer-day initiative. The Twitter feed often shares quotes from the man who spent 27 years in prison during white racist rule in South Africa.

    To read the article titled, “Mandela Foundation wants volunteers on 95th birthday,” click here.

    The Citizen
  • Mobile Language Application for Zambia

    Peace Corps volunteers, working closely with Zambian software developers, have developed a mobile application that will translate English words and phrases into any of seven languages spoken in Zambia.

    The Peace Corps say ‘Bantu Babel’, which is intended to help Peace Corps volunteers, international aid workers and host-country nationals communicate more effectively, is now available for Android-compatible devices in the Google Play store.

    It says the application can be used as a training tool for government and aid workers or as a supplement to formal language training, runs offline, eliminating the need for an Internet connection.

    To read the article titled, “Peace Corps volunteers create mobile language App,” click here.

    All Africa
  • Benevola: Volunteer / Classroom Assistant

    Please note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.
    Opportunity closing date: 
    Tuesday, May 7, 2013
    Opportunity type: 
    Benevola is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to raising awareness of environmental issues in Africa through radio programmes and the latest mobile phone technology (pilot).

    The School for Autistic Children was founded in January 2010 by a group of people who had autistic children of their own or in their family. Donations in the form of cash and consumables from the local business community were secured in order to open the school. The school provides children on the autism spectrum the opportunity to learn and grow within a social environment along with their peers – an environment that respects every child's uniqueness whilst promoting learning and development by using an Individual Educational Developmental Programme (IEDP) approach.

    Statistics show that there is a rising percentage in the amount of autistic children worldwide. Although statistics about the prevalence of Autism varies, Autism Western Cape estimates that 1 in 86 children in South Africa under the age of 6 years are affected by it. Autism is 5 times more prevalent in boys than in girls (Autism Western Cape Website). Autism Spectrum Disorder is a term often used as an umbrella term for Pervasive Developmental Disorders as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for mental disorders 4th Edition.

    Autism is a lifelong developmental disability whereby those affected display difficulties in the following 4 areas (by some referred to as the “Quadrant of Autism”):
    • Communication and Language difficulties;
    • A narrow restricted repertoire of thinking and behaviour;
    • Difficulties with sensory modulation;
    • Difficulties in relating to other people.
    Benevola seeks to recruit a Volunteer/Classroom Assistant, based in Western Cape.

    Our partner's school is growing fast with the increase in Autism awareness worldwide. The aim is to provide quality education for learners from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Therefore, our school fees are very little and we can't afford staff assistants. The objective would be to give the volunteer an opportunity to work closely with Autistic children (between the ages of 3 and 16) under the guidance of an experienced teacher.

    Project description: 

    We currently have 3 classes at the school, with 6-7 learners per class.

    Level 1: This class is for children aged 3-6. These children need hands-on motoring through activities, learn self-help skills like toilet-training, eating with cutlery, sensory integration throughout their school day, basic social skills, communication (most of them use PECS) and routine. Focus on fine and gross motor development.

    Level 2: These children are between the ages of 7 and 10 and the focus of the activities in this classroom is: Refining of social, communication and independence skills, Pre-reading, writing and numeracy work, Focus on fine and gross motor development.

    Level 3: This class is our so-called "higher functioning" learners, ages ranging from 9-15. This class focuses more on academic work and developing the learners for mainstream education. Social skills are of utmost importance in this class.

    We currently need at least one assistant per classroom to ensure that we give each learner a quality education (our teacher: learner ratio is 1:7 which is not ideal). The person’s duties would mainly include assisting the teacher in daily educational activities. S/he would write out the planning of the day as well as each one's responsibilities. Duties could include (but is not limited to) facilitating/helping children with academic word in class, getting materials ready for the lesson, cutting/preparation of learning material (e.g. making visuals), joining the learners on field-trips, assisting with break-duty, attending or helping with administration around our fundraisers.

    Working hours will be from 08h00 to 13h00 every day, and basic training will be provided.

    Preferred skills:
    • Special heart and lots of patience for learners with special needs;
    • Must be able to work in a team;
    • History of working in an education system or with Autism spectrum disorders will be beneficial, but is not a necessity;
    • Honesty and motivation.
    For more information, register and apply online, click here.

    Please quote the source of this advertisement in your application - NGO Pulse Portal.

    For more about Benevola, refers to http://benevola.net.

    For other vacancies in the NGO sector, refer to www.ngopulse.org/vacancies..


    Follow news, information and updates from SANGONeT and NGO Pulse on Facebook at http://mzan.si/AAzs.

  • Creativity of Thought and Ideas: How we can change the State of the Nation

    With the State of the Nation Address and the 2013/14 Budget speech behind us, we now more than before have a gripping awareness that the South African reality is one that will need a lot more input before it is what we as South Africans need it to be.
    We have made great strides towards equity and the sharing of wealth and knowledge but it has been staggered. This means that there are some areas that need more attention than others. One of these areas is youth development. I have always been passionate about the value of education and the attaining of skills because I understand that it empowers the individual as well as society, to improve. If we have knowledge and skills, our dependency on others will be less and we will be more equipped to be also self-sufficient, this is enriching in terms of dignity.

    As a political science graduate, I know from experience how difficult it is to break into the job market, especially into one's own field. We can see that the youth is battling to come to grips with the reality that there are simply not enough jobs for everyone. We cannot continue to look at the state to resolve the issue, although we know that we can depend on it for assistance. It is the accumulation of these ideas that have led me to get off my behind and give my input. However, it goes without saying that actions speak louder than words, so this is what I am working on. I was given an opportunity to write articles on politics, to be edited published on a website by Shari Cupido, a Brussels-based diplomatic, to keep the poolsci juices flowing while doing my daily job. Upon completing the two-month online internship, I asked Cupido whether we could partner with the Claremont Volunteer Centre so that future interns who do not have a day job can gain working experience and build contacts through volunteering, to which she agreed. I then approached the Volunteer Centre, since I cannot volunteer due to my working - I collect goods and donate to when I can; I spoke with Shahida who also was in agreement. Shahida arranges for local and international volunteers to come and assist those who are in need of working experience. She hopes to grow her base of international volunteers to a group of more than one hundred. Shahida has put forth the invaluable opportunity for young political science and international relations graduates to motivate the volunteers by means of talks, and to workshops or lectures, to discuss issues such as diversity and HIV/AIDS.
    The status of refugees in South Africa, as well as the more other issues such as how did the youth come to have a sense of entitlement and how young people can more broadly impact the community.

    We had had our first successful talk, focusing on the issue of diversity, delivered by Fazlin Fransman, a member of the South African Political Science group.

    It is our mission to give graduates a platform to gain the experience that they will need to put to use the knowledge that they have attained through their studies and allow them to polish real time ideas into articles on politics. The articles should speak to the contemporary issues as well as ultimately engaging in a broad-spectrum enrichment in terms of the actual volunteering and assisting of the administration of volunteering.

    This blog serves to show that creative though in the face of difficult circumstances can lead to the development of ideas that are able to address issue and empower us as the people of South Africa to make a difference in our own communities. It has also been to thank those who are involved in SA Pol-Sci and the Claremont Volunteer Centre for the amazing work.

    Please feel free to contact me on Facebook or Twitter @AnnekeScheepers

    Please follow @SA_PolSci on twitter or visit our website and subscribe to our newsletter

  • What Does Sustainability Mean and What Does it Require?

    My dad used to say, ‘you can’t just take take take, you gotta give something back!’ At the time he was referring to my (lack of) maintenance and care for my Volkswagen Beetle, but I often think of it as my first lesson in sustainability… about looking beyond the present moment and considering the longer term. In the case of my Beetle, and my dad’s wise warnings, it was not only about getting from A to B that specific day by squeezing all I could out of the old girl, but about proactively keeping my vehicle on the road into the future, which of course meant immediate pains for me of doing without a new dress or time spent with friends in order to work and save to service the car. But I was all about instant gratification in those days, so the poor Beetle suffered along quite faithfully, with my dad coming to the rescue from time to time with his car sense and sage counsel.

    In organisations, this story can be likened to the need to put strategies in place that may not give immediate returns, but will ensure the business continues performing and thriving over the long-term. But what exactly does the term ‘sustainability’ mean?

    Sustainability has two key interconnected connotations, namely:
    • Ability to continue for some time; and
    • Not making excessive use of resources.
    There are a variety of synonyms that can be considered in both these contexts, such as keep going, keep up, look after, appreciate, cultivate, encourage, develop, value, esteem, and flourish. Antonyms may be neglect, waste, overexert, take for granted, exploit, regress, stagnate and burnout. I think it is important to consider these antonyms as they spell out quite clearly the ‘what not to do’. I also thought the meaning of sustenance may be valid here, which is the process of making something continue, or in the case of my Beetle - the fuel and durability for the journey.

    Now let’s piece together a quilt of snippets, stories and strategies that builds on these connotations of sustainability:

    The value of volunteerism

    I read an interview in the Sunday Times yesterday with Ruth Lewin, head of corporate sustainability for Discovery. She was speaking on the company’s volunteer programme and how it can be linked to employee engagement and enriched business performance. She articulated how real sustainability lies in a longer term strategy of building partnerships and promoting a culture of connectedness. She advocated the benefits of a ‘socially engaged and connected’ workforce, who are concerned with improving business performance within the greater context of ‘a thriving and stable society’. Ruth also explored the transformative effects of making volunteerism an appraised business imperative within the workplace, such as employee and leadership development, fostering shared aims, and improved staff collaborations. 

    The value of connectedness and engagement

    An excerpt from Wikipedia on the topic of Community of practice suggests four areas of organisational performance that can be affected by promoting, like Discovery, such a culture of connectedness:
    • Decreasing the learning curve of new employees;
    • Responding more rapidly to customer needs and inquiries;
    • Reducing rework and preventing ‘reinvention of the wheel’; and
    • Spawning new ideas for products and services.
    While Amy Rees Anderson, a contributor on Forbes.com advocates that “great employees carry value that simply cannot be replaced, such as:
    • Deep institutional knowledge of the organisation;
    • Extensive product, systems, and process knowledge;
    • Client relationships that have been built over many years;
    • Experience on what has worked and what hasnot; and
    • Camaraderie and influence with their co-workers.”
    I would think, for sustainability, that organisations are making sincere moves to actively esteem, look after and develop this value, and also to appreciate and cultivate the capacity and conditions that make performance and innovation flourish.

    Taking a strategic approach

    Sizwe Nxasana’s presentation at the Making CSI Matter Conference in 2012 resonated with what Ruth has to say. Sizwe is the chief executive officer (CEO) of the FirstRand Group, and advised companies to take a strategic approach to corporate social investment (CSI). He stressed the importance and urgency of doing things for the right reasons and with broader participation in mind. Sizwe recognised that we can no longer only consider the shareholders of the company in our practices and conduct, but are required to evaluate and transform business in line with issues and interests that affect all stakeholders, namely customers, employees and society. He laid emphasis on requiring a different mindset when it comes to CSI and advised breaking out of working competitively and in ‘our little corners’. He advocated opening up the dialogue with other businesses and government to start win-win partnerships, where business can easily pilot new ideas and innovation, while government funding could be used to replicate innovations that are beneficial to addressing societal issues.

    Telling the story of who we are

    In an interview on leadership lessons, Dave Barger, CEO and president of the American company JetBlue Airways, shared his insights on social responsibility or as he prefers ‘citizenship’, and concurred with Ruth and Sizwe’s sentiments: “No company is an island anymore…sustainability, supporting and improving environmental footprint are efforts and virtues with a clear return. We absolutely get something out of it. We are better able to attract great talent, because we want people on the team who see the world the way we do. People are more likely to choose a company that aligns with their values, so being in the community is the best way to attract new customers. Ultimately, we want a relationship with the community; we aren’t chasing the next transaction.” He goes on to say that, “Our efforts reflect our DNA - telling the story of who we are as a company, what we value, and how we look at the world.”

    Linking to branding

    Dave’s slant on citizenship helps us to see the clear link between sustainability and branding. In a 10XBusinessCoaching video on YouTube, branding is described as “the sum total of everything you do. A promise wrapped up in an experience of doing business with you, or being touched by your business.” It’s becoming clearer to me that sustainability cannot be farmed out to that motley corner of the business that dot’s their i’s with little hearts, but rather needs to be a core focus area - weaved into the fabric of the brand and organisational structure for it to be truly authentic and valued. It cannot be bolted on as an afterthought, or perceived as an altruistic peripheral transaction.

    Minding your business

    Similarly when it comes to implementations of business and organisational change, more and more of this strategic sustainability thinking needs to become increasingly rooted in the ‘way we do things round here’. And consistently asking: Will this change solution provide the real answers that we need to enable longer-term sustainability and organisational results?  But all this requires reflection on whether we really esteem that people, planet and community are our business and whether this belief is congruent with our organisation’s positioning and personality, or is it merely a means to an end to remain King III compliant, to impartially gain Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) points without really getting involved or to promote the appearance of good corporate citizenship; and, as Nxasana says, spend more resources on publicising how much good we are doing, than on the actual doing.

    Requires a shift

    In considering the example of my VW Beetle, no amount of paying lip-service to my dad’s warning could have ensured sustainability if not supported by real conviction to shift my focus and take a different approach. But the concept of foregoing a new outfit or saying no to a night out with friends in lieu of something as intangible as a car service, was completely foreign and somewhat disruptive to me. Perhaps you feel the same about change management, employee engagement, caring for the environment or giving back to communities? Perhaps these don’t seem like tangible business imperatives? But, you’ll need to make the shift and challenge this type of thinking before you get behind or worse - breakdown on the side of the road. Also consider whether there are gaps between strategic purpose and tactical activities? Perhaps your sustainability intentions are good and the vision narrative congruent, but there is a rift in the execution.

    On that note, we need to learn not to get too attached to ideas, projects and investments to such an extent that we cannot let them go if need be. Sometimes we might be quite far down the line when we realise that the approach, work or projects that we are busy with are not quite right and we need to change tactics, but we feel compelled to defend and justify the investment already made. And as a result, end up spending more money and resources on the wrong things, while missing out on valuable learning - because we cannot learn from the mistakes that we refuse to admit in the first place. When we realise the long term systemic impact we are aiming for, we need to allow space for mistakes, disruption, innovation, reflection and even resistance - because these are clear indicators that things are starting to happen, and change means progress.

    Consider what John Mason says: “Playing it safe is probably the most unsafe thing in the world. You cannot stand still. You must go forward. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values. Your growth depends on your willingness to experience change”.

    And as my dad said – You can’t just ‘take take take’, you gotta give something back! And now it’s evident that giving back is more than transactional, it’s a holistic way of doing business.

    Need help with your strategic reflection and planning?

    Caroline Lowings is the principal consultant at Change Story, a Gauteng-based consultancy providing focused change management and strategic planning services to clients. Caroline has over 14 years’ experience consulting and advising on complex projects in complex change environments. For more information, Caroline can be reached on 083 263 2660 or go to http://changestory.co.za/services.


    Sunday Times newspaper. Money & Careers Section.  Interview with Ruth Lewin. 17 February 2013.
    Mason, J. You can do it even if others say you can’t. 2003. Spire, 2008.
    Soanes, C. with Hawker, S.Compact Oxford English Dictionary for students. 2005. Oxford University Press. 2006.

    Caroline Lowings
  • Accelerating CSI: Transnet Employee Volunteerism Programme

    The increasing socio-economic conditions faced by many South African communities call for corporates to start channelling adequate resources into their corporate social investment (CSI) programmes. Apart from increasing their CSI spend, utilising the skills at their disposal (their staff) in partnership with the beneficiaries to implement the programmes will add value to the investments they are making in communities. Furthermore, transferring the ownership of the CSI initiatives to the beneficiaries will not only turn them into participants of social change, but also ensure that their CSI initiatives are sustained.

    On 9 March 2012, I had some of these ideas while I was travelling to Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, to witness the launch of the Transnet Volunteers for Villages Programme (EVP). The EVP is a pioneering programme that will see intensive volunteering efforts ploughed into selected villages over a period of three years, and has now become a major component of Transnet’s CSI spend. Travelling with a newspaper journalist, two photographers and one of the organisers of the event, I was reminded  of the current socio-economic challenges faced by the majority, especially the historically-disadvantaged, requires commitment from government, private sector, civil society and the communities themselves to work together.

    Transnet Foundation, a CSI unit of Transnet, used the day to introduce its staff, who will be volunteering a maximum of 24 hours a year or three hours per week for a period of three years, to doing community work at various centres within Diepsloot. Their involvement is limited to three years, a time in which all interventions must have reached sustainable levels.

    Briefing the employees on the EVP, rules for engagement and the introduction of the village walk guide, Susie Mabie, senior manager for EVP, emphasised the need for the volunteers to integrate themselves into the community. Mabie urged the volunteers to use their three years of engagement to transfer skills, guide and to capacitate the community.

    The importance of involving employees in CSI was reiterated by Cynthia Mgijima, head of Transnet Foundation, who pointed out that while the developmental needs of most underprivileged communities are extremely broad, spanning education, health, infrastructure and far more, the vast wealth of skills found within the ranks of its employees offers a match for all requirements. “With engineers to trades people as staff, we believe that we can create many and diverse volunteering opportunities for our employees,” she explained. 

    The volunteers then embarked on a ‘walk about’, hosted by Patrick Maseko, to Skills Development Centre, Bona Lesedi, Diepsloot Pre-school, OR Tambo Clinic, Diepsloot Youth Centre, Diepsloot Methodist Church, and Diepsloot Primary School.

    The highlight of this event was when Ernst & Young, in partnership with Transnet, donated 300 pairs of shoes to Grade 1 learners at Diepsloot Primary School, which currently accommodates 1 100 learners. Ernst & Young accounts coordinator, Zonke Mnyandu, explained that her company saw the need to make a contribution to the school, after hearing that the Transnet Foundation adopted it. Mnyandu emphasised that the donation is an acknowledgement of the important role that schools play in shaping our future.

    The delighted school principal, Joe Makhafola, assured everyone that the donation will make a difference in the lives of the beneficiaries. Makhafola is of the view that the shoes will go a long way in keeping the learners inside the classrooms even during winter. He further explained that many of the learners abandon classes during the winter season as they are unable to cope walking to school bare-footed in the extreme cold.

    “This should not be the last time we see you,” he pleaded.

    Meanwhile, the school provides two meals a day (breakfast and lunch) to the learners since many of them come from extreme poverty backgrounds and struggle to concentrate during the lessons, due to hunger.

    In order to take its CSI programme to another level, the Foundation is also considering monthly ‘Help Desk’ sessions, where the community representatives will be able to consult a panel of experts from various fields, drawn from Transnet staff.  “In this way, we feel that we as South Africa’s freight carrier are not just focussing on our own core business, but on the communities within which we operate,” says Mgijima.

    - Butjwana Seokoma is information coordinator at SANGONeT.

    Butjwana Seokoma
  • Building Youth Volunteering Culture: Getting CSOs on Board

    The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) hosted the Knowledge Network seminar under the theme ‘Increasing Youth Volunteering in South African Civil Society’, from 24-25 January 2012 in Benoni, east of Johannesburg. The event was attended by approximately 100 delegates from civil society organisations, student-led organisations and funding institutions, among others.

    Thulani Tshefuta, chairperson of the South African Youth Council, emphasised the need to balance ‘voluntarism’ and ‘volunteerism’ among the youth. He explained the importance of valuing both concepts; voluntarism being the actual work contributed in helping communities, and volunteerism being the empowerment of the volunteers in order to sustain and motivate them to keep practising it.

    Government and civil society should begin to encourage, motivate and emphasise the significance of volunteering to the youth, which can also reduce unemployment, one of the development challenges affecting young people in the country. While government and CSOs have already introduced initiatives aimed at encouraging voluntarism, the need to continue instilling and sustaining the culture of volunteering is visible.

    The question however is, what role does volunteering play and how can one benefit from it.

    Volunteering provides a platform for youth to give back to communities. It also provides an opportunity for them to attain the necessary skills and experience in preparation for their careers.

    One of the unique features of this seminar was the introduction of the ‘Open Space Technology’, a methodology used to conduct the seminar. With this methodology, participants are involved in creating the ‘agenda wall’ and leading group discussions. Based on the main theme, participants were encouraged to introduce sub-themes relevant to their development needs. This approach provided a platform to contribute, learn and share ideas and experiences of how civil society and government could increase youth volunteering opportunities in South Africa.

    Some of the topics discussed by the groups focused on motivating youth to volunteer, the use of information communication technology to promote volunteering, bridging the gap between rural and urban youth, using volunteers to transform communities, developing a policy on volunteering as well as the  relationship between volunteering and employment.

    Volunteering should also be about the willingness to give back to communities and a way of uplifting them.

    However, the provision of incentives, when available, is one way of empowering volunteers. In support of the need to increase volunteer programmes, Tshefuta recommended that volunteers should be awarded certificates of acknowledgement signed by officials of volunteer bodies after they have accumulated a certain number of hours of work.

    The seminar coincided with the launch of Cooperation between the Flemish Government and NYDA, ‘Promoting and Up-Scaling Youth Volunteering in Civil Society Organisations in South Africa’. Speaking during the launch, NYDA deputy chairperson, Yeshern Pillay, explained that, “Youth engagement in a community can be beneficial not only to the future of an individual, but to community advancement as well.”

    In line with the NYDA’s vision, South Africa should work towards creating the number of volunteer-involving opportunities and increase the number of young people involved in volunteer work.

    Below are some of the speeches presented at the launch of the Cooperation between the Flemish Government and NYDA ‘Promoting and Up-scaling Youth Volunteering in Civil Society Organisations in South Africa,’ which coincided with the Knowledge Network seminar. - Phumla Pearl Mhlanga is an intern at SANGONeT.
    Phumla Mhlanga
  • Is South Africa Still A ‘Nation of Givers’?

    In December 2011, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF UK) released the second edition of a world survey on giving and voluntarism. The ‘World Giving Index 2011’ shows that the United States of America is the most charitable country, while Ireland is ranked second and Australia third. This Index is the most globally inclusive study into altruistic behaviour, covering 153 countries.  The report shows that the world has become a more generous place over the last 12 months – with a two percent increase in the global population ‘helping a stranger’ and a one percent increase in people volunteering. However, the worldwide financial turmoil is almost certainly the reason that percent fewer people have given money to a nonprofit or charitable organisation in 2011.

    South Africa is not favourably ranked in this study, as we are placed 108 out of the 153 countries surveyed. This ranking seems to contradict a 2005 national study on giving (the most recent in-depth national research available) which suggested that SA is a ‘Nation of Givers’, and that a potential 93 percent of respondents gave either money, time or in-kind contributions.

    Giving behaviours are complex social phenomena, particularly in multicultural and increasingly inequitous SA, and therefore notoriously difficult to quantify accurately. For example, if we consider various estimates of the national rate of volunteering: the 2011 World Giving Index reports a South African volunteering rate of 14 percent, the ‘Nation of Givers’ study reported that 17 percent of South Africans volunteer, while the new Statistics SA volunteering survey calculates a volunteering rate of only 3.5 percent of the working age population.

    The Stats SA study has been criticised for failing to survey the particular giving behaviours that take place within poor communities. In addition, the Stats SA study overlooked the substantial contributions made through employee community involvement – the corporate-sponsored contributions of working people.

    Susan Wilkinson-Maphosa’s respected indigenous research into giving in SA and the region has revealed the rich and long-established traditions in philanthropy that exist.  (Susan Wilkinson-Maphosa ‘The Poor Philanthropist’)

    Because the term ‘philanthropy’ is not universally popular with Africans, and does not capture the range of nuances of giving which exist, an emerging body of literature on philanthropy in Africa uses the terms ‘help, solidarity or philanthropy of community’. This refers to giving by many, particularly the marginalised or the poor, to other poor individuals of their community.

    Among African communities in which there is a strong religious presence; Christianity, Islam, and Hindus, all subscribe to beliefs that prescribe helping individuals who are less fortunate. This has been recognised by some African states (for example Kenya in the 1960s) as a means of mobilising communities to pool resources for local development. It may be that South Africa could adopt this model to augment established local economic development initiatives. In addition to the potential increase in development resources, this model of community development should increase social cohesion and/or social capital. As a proven indicator of social cohesion, social capital is increasingly viewed (by socio-economic analysts) as one of the preconditions for democracy and development.

    Another critical area of South African giving which would not be revealed through the Gallup Poll data, are the myriad independent foundations established by wealthy South Africans. In addition to foundations established by liberal white people under apartheid, since the 1994 democratic elections a growing number of newly-wealthy black Africans are practicing various forms of organised philanthropy. Much of this giving takes place privately, without publicity, and for the benefit of rural home communities.

    In order to provide a current and reliable basis for national policy and planning it is imperative that we have new studies to quantify and understand South African giving behaviours. For example, recent Australian research revealed that over Aus$ 20 million (R160 million) per annum is contributed through payroll giving by 11 million employed Australians. Here in South Africa, we unfortunately do not have regular measuring of the scale and value of employee community involvement.  For example, according to Stats SA there are 13 million employed people in South Africa. This is a significant, largely untapped and definitely overlooked collective resource for development.  The latest edition of the prestigious CSI Handbook estimates that 76 percent of South African corporates support some form of employee involvement (up from 63 percent in 2008). But currently only an estimated 22 percent of companies support payroll giving - which at this stage has the most likely developmental potential. More work is necessary to establish payroll giving as an accepted aspect of corporate social responsibility and concomitant development resource.

    CAF Southern Africa is currently fundraising to conduct a national study on individual giving and voluntarism, with a specific focus on employee contributions. Our study will be undertaken by well-regarded local researchers and will use innovative and culturally-sensitive instruments to measure and analyse the entire spectrum of uniquely South African practices of giving and volunteering. As a highly unequal developing economy, we need this information in order to influence the policy environment, promote giving behaviours, improve impact and link ‘philanthropic’ resources to processes of economic advancement and positive social change.

    For more about the World Giving Index 2011, refer to www.cafsouthernafrica.org/resources-cafinternational.htm.

    - Colleen du Toit is chief executive officer at CAF Southern Africa.

    Colleen du Toit
  • Vodacom is changing the world

    What would you do if you could Change the World? Imagine making a difference working for a charitable organisation without the worry of having to make financial sacrifices? Sounds a bit far fetched...or does it?

    Vodacom today launched a ground breaking initiative called "Change the World" that will give 10 people the opportunity to work at one of 10 South African-based charitable organisations, for six months, and get paid for it.

    The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) recently released the first ever ‘World Giving Index'.  The report looks at three different types of charitable behaviour - giving money, giving time and helping a stranger. Currently, South Africa is ranked 76th in the World Giving Index and the report reveals that only 19% of our population is willing to volunteer their time to help others.

    According to Mthobi Tyamzashe, Vodacom Executive Director: CSI and Chairman of Vodacom Foundation: "Since 1999 Vodacom, through the Vodacom Foundation, has assisted hundreds of charitable organisations with funding. This was followed by the launch of a vibrant staff volunteer programme, the Yebo Heroes, which enables staff to donate time, collected items and their skills to needy organisations. Now we would like to enable members of the public to join hands with us in our efforts and make a positive and sustainable contribution to South African communities."

    A thorough search of available non-governmental organisations followed by a comprehensive due diligence check by an independent agency, on behalf of Vodacom, was able to identify a shortlist of 10 volunteer-ready host organisations.

    The opportunities are as follows:
    Province Organisation Skills Required
    KwaZulu Natal (Inchanga, Pinetown) 1000 Hills Community Helpers Pre-School Educator or equivalent
    Free State (Brandwag, Bloemfontein) Free State Care in Action Volunteer Coordinator
    Mpumalanga (Nelspruit) SANCA Lowveld Social Worker or equivalent
    Northern Cape (South Ridge, Kimberly) Business Against Crime Northern Cape Social Development Coordinator
    Western Cape (Woodstock, Cape Town) Ikamva Labantu General Medical Practitioner
    Eastern Cape (Cambridge, East London) East London Child and Youth Care Centre Remedial Educator or equivalent
    North West (Krokodilsdrift East, Brits) Opkyk Pathways Therapy and Education Centre Educator or equivalent
    Limpopo (Vaalwater, Limpopo) Waterberg Welfare Society Fundraiser
    Gauteng (Bronkhorstspruit) Sizanani Children’s Home Occupational Therapist
    Gauteng (Sandton) SPCA Sandton Fundraiser
    Through the Vodacom Change the World programme, the volunteers will be afforded the unique opportunity to do something very close to their hearts whilst at the same time impart their much needed skills and expertise to the organisations.

    The 10 winning volunteers will be selected through a carefully adjudicated process. Each of the 10 charitable host organizations will receive an amount of R240 000. This amount will be applied towards a monthly living allowance for the volunteer, with the balance being used for costs related to the volunteer placement programme. This ensures that the host organization is not financially worse-off due to the placement. For the successful volunteers, in addition to the monthly allowance, each will receive a laptop, cellphone and pre-paid credit to be used towards sharing their experiences with friends and family and thereby inspire others to make a difference.

    South African citizens over the age of 18 are invited to submit an online application form to http://changetheworld.vodacom.co.za/ by the 8th of December 2010. Once selected, the successful applicants will be placed within the charities that match their interests, skills and experience and will begin to change their world from the 4th of April 2011.

    The campaign is aligned to a worldwide Vodafone initiative, called World of Difference. The Vodacom Change the World programme, is delivered by the Vodacom Foundation, a division of Vodacom (Pty) Ltd in association with Avusa Media.
    According to Mondli Makhanya, Editor-in-Chief of Avusa Media, "It has been demonstrated through initiatives such as Mandela Day that South Africans are extremely willing to give of themselves and that they want to do more than merely putting money in the offering box.  As Avusa Media we believe that the Change the World programme will harness that energy and allow South Africans to share their skills with the less fortunate citizens for the good of the Republic".

    For more information about the programme please visit http://changetheworld.vodacom.co.za/ or SMS ‘change' to 31118.
    Date published: 
    Vodacom Foundation
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