Wealthy Donors in South Africa: Giving is a Way of Life

philanthropy ngos donors giving
Tuesday, 12 March, 2013 - 12:15

The recent coverage of Patrice Motsepe pledging his earnings to philanthropy is nothing new to SA - where the majority of the rich continue to be involved in giving – but will encourage others to follow suit

With all the coverage regarding the Motsepe family, and David Beckham pledging their earnings to philanthropy, one wonders if these are isolated incidences and whether in South Africa (SA) in particular these are rare displays of generosity and magnanimity, or are other South Africans in fact actively involved in philanthropy but operating below the radar?
 
Indeed the vast majority of wealthy South Africans are involved in giving. Our recent report which surveyed High Net Worth (HNW) giving in SA for 2010 (The Giving Report) showed that 93.5 percent of HNW donors in SA gave money, time or goods to social causes during the year under review. Giving is a way of life for these donors, with most having given to social causes for at least 10 years.
 
The second version of The Giving Report will be available this year and the findings, to be published in October 2013, will enable us to establish the impact the financial crisis may have had on philanthropic initiatives. Anecdotally, through our work in providing philanthropy services to donors, we believe that the impact has been quite significant. Before 2008 when the economy was booming both locally and internationally, SA’s donors were setting up their own foundations and committing to philanthropy in heart-warming numbers.
 
However, with the majority of South Africans already hit hard by the financial crisis over the last few years, most are finding themselves in circumstances where perhaps some of their charity actually needs to start at home, by providing for adult children whose businesses have taken a severe knock or to protect retirement provisions that have not performed quite as expected. This year, with the markets having improved we hope to see a change with more HNW individuals having more certainty on their own financial situations. Also, the added tax advantages mentioned in the recent 2013/4 budget by Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, may go some way to encouraging South Africans to give more. We just last year made submissions to Treasury in this regard as part of the Private Philanthropy Circle with the purpose of encouraging philanthropy and it is heartening to see that they seem to be taking steps in a positive.
 
The true test of giving comes in difficult times. The financial crisis has in fact shown how those who had set up long-term structures, funded with a view to being able to give well into the future, have indeed been able to continue their giving. The importance of this is all the more apparent as many nonprofit organisations have struggled to continue their work due to the knock on effect of the crisis on their funding.
 
Some question the need to publicise the recent actions of Patrice Motsepe and David Beckham, but these actions have certainly prompted conversation - placing giving and philanthropy firmly in the spotlight, leading us to look at our own endeavours and what we are doing or could be doing regardless of magnitude. It comes down to commitment, to taking that next step and to not only enjoy the arts but to perhaps fund a foundation to unearth and foster South African musical talent. Rather than bemoan the unemployment problem in our country, we need to find and support solutions that fund bursaries and scholarships.
 
- Anna Vayanos is head of philanthropy at Nedbank Private Wealth.

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