Inspiration for fellow fundraisers and other South Africans with soul
According to a report on fin24.com, South Africans bucked a global trend of giving less to become more charitable in 2016 – despite the tough economic climate.
The Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index rated South Africa the 24th most charitable country in the world. South Africans rated higher in the categories of ‘helping a stranger’ and ‘volunteering time’, but less so when it came to ‘donating money’. All three categories were combined to produce the overall score. Our 2016 score was higher than that achieved in 2015, indicating that more people are getting involved in charitable causes.
As someone who’s been involved in fundraising for most of my professional life, these stats are a balm to the soul. When I first started out (some 30 years ago), people referred to my work in direct mail as ‘begging letters’ – often accompanied by a sneer. As if it was somehow shameful to invite others to contribute towards the dream of a better world. So the shift towards more and more people wanting to get involved in charitable initiatives, is really heartening. I’m especially inspired by individuals who don’t just volunteer or contribute to worthy causes, but who take it one step further and start their own projects which are deeply meaningful to them.
Stephan Ferreira is one such person. Although he had previously been involved in charity work, it was only after he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013 that he decided he needed to do something more.
“The idea of death did not scare me,” he writes on his Facebook page, Charity Begins With Me. “But I knew I wanted to leave behind something worth remembering before I officially kicked the bucket.”
He decided he would give hungry children from an impoverished informal settlement a small lunch on Sundays. For convenience and economy (and because kids like them!) he decided on a hot dog and juice, with an apple to keep them healthy, and some marshmallows – because they are kids and they deserve a little joy in life.
Stephan is now feeding 800+ children every Sunday! As well as holding down a full time job and collecting donated food items and other basic necessities during the week. If that is not a shining example of how one person can make a difference, I don’t know what is.
More inspiration comes from another Facebook page, I Have a Name
I’m not quite sure who’s behind it, but the page invites you to ,“Come with me on a journey … the stories and names behind the faces of everyday South Africans living their life in your neighbourhood, on your streets.”
It comes with the disclaimer that the author is running the page in her/his spare time while juggling family, kids and work. I Have a Name is not an NGO nor does it accept monetary contributions. The goal is to inspire others to break down barriers and help, by taking up contact with the people featured, to encourage a radical change of perspective, and to inspire hope for South Africa's future. “We share this country with a lot of big hearted, generous people who want to make a difference,” says the author.
In complete contrast, Siyabonga Africa is not a small start up initiative – it’s a large, thriving non-profit doing incredible work. I was lucky enough to visit recently and see their baking initiative. Unemployed people from the local community are taught the basics of bread making and baking and then use these skills to start up small home based bakeries of their own. Some are employed in the organisation’s own bakery – which supplies hundreds of low cost loaves to the community. It’s a win-win situation offering employment and the opportunity to feed families with top quality bread at a lower price than commercially produced loaves.
Visit siyabongaafrica.org.za for more about the incredible work done by this non-profit.
Please share stories of organisations and individuals that inspire you. We all need more good news!