Gill Bates, the chief executive of Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) Southern Africa, reports that the 2017 CAF World Giving Index shows that that in trying times, South Africans still tried to help where they could. “There is a new surge of energy on the continent and in South Africa, within the philanthropy, development and corporate social investment space, which is exciting to see,” says Bates.

The annual CAF World Giving Index looks at how and why people around the world give to charity. It’s compiled from data from 139 countries, representing 95% of the world’s population. The report includes questions about three different types of giving behaviour --  helping a stranger, donating money, volunteering time -- and ranks each country accordingly. 

by Sello Hatang

At this year’s Nelson Mandela Lecture, Bill Gates spoke on the theme ‘Living Together’. Gates spoke compellingly to the fact that Africa can achieve the future it aspires to. But to do so, we need to learn to do things differently and to find creative ways of empowering our youth to make a difference. We need to find sustainable solutions to what have become critical human challenges.

Gates is an example of the extraordinary steps an individual can make in transforming society. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has altered the lives of millions of people – particularly those in Africa – increasing life expectancy and education levels, and almost eliminating certain types of diseases. In addition, Gates has encouraged other HNW individuals to sign ‘The Giving Pledge’, which is a commitment by these individuals to distribute a substantial percentage of their individual fortunes to philanthropic causes. As of March 2016, over $365 billion has been pledged by HNW individuals globally as part of this initiative. In this way, Gates represents the personally invested active citizenship role that HNW individuals can play

Compare today to the way things were a decade or a century ago. The world is healthier and safer than ever. The number of children who die every year has been cut in half since 1990 and keeps going down. The number of mothers who die has also dropped dramatically. So has extreme poverty—declining by nearly half in just 20 years. More children are attending school. The list goes on and on.

Despite challenging economic circumstances, the South Africa Giving 2017 report reveals that individuals in South Africa – particularly the younger generation – continue to give of their time and money to assist individuals and communities in need.

Detailing the different ways that people in South Africa donate and volunteer, this report covers how much money on average is donated by individuals, which causes people give to, how people like to give, as well as what motivates people to give.

There are many high net worth individuals involved in philanthropy. According to the The Global Philanthropy Report, there are 15 million millionaires and close to 2,000 billionaires globally. Many of them have launched some form of philanthropic structure to enable them to make a financial investment, thereby improving society in one way or another.

Many high net worth philanthropists start a foundation - a non-governmental, non-profit organisation which makes donations, known as grants, to NPOs,  either to fund a specific programme or to contribute to general operating expenses.  A foundation can also be called an endowment or a charitable trust.

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In Kevin Marsh’s piece on Africa’s science funding gap published in Quartz earlier this month, he cites African philanthropy and philanthropists as potential sources of funding for scientific research. He poses the question, “Will there ever be an African equivalent of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?” It’s a query that merits a considered response.

Amid a challenging economic environment in 2015, this third Giving Report confirms South African HNW individuals’ continued commitment to giving back to society. The results across the three Giving Reports – spanning a five-year period – are remarkably consistent and show that the vast majority of HNW individuals give to social causes they care about over the long term without formalised structures or strategies.

global"From a description of various forms of individual giving to the growing importance of community philanthropy and structured, institutional giving, the current report is an effort to bring back the diversity of the field of philanthropy at the center of the debate, by drawing a comprehensive and provocative picture of current trends and challenges of the field. The report also raises some of the questions and issues most critical and central to its development – from technology and shrinking civic space to power dynamics within philanthropy practice and concepts, to the evolving role and form of philanthropy infrastructure."


by Dr Bhekinkosi Moyo

African philanthropy is moving into a defining era. Across the continent, for the first time in history, African philanthropy is beginning to take a formal and central role in questions of development and sustainability and is increasingly informing policy processes at a national level.