Hard times making us less charitable

24 December 2017 - 12:58 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
Empty wallet, no money.
Empty wallet, no money.
Image: .123rf.com/Vadim Guzhva

Tough economic times have not only forced some companies and individuals to cancel free coffee at work‚ find a second job for additional income or share ever more creative ways to cut grocery bills‚ it has made us less charitable too.

There has been a decline in donations‚ specifically from the business sector‚ said Red Cross South Africa spokesperson Lungile Khambule.

“They speak of a volatile economic climate which only allows them to contribute less than what they previously would. Some still do but not in a form of money but rather through CSI (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives that benefit a specific cause they have selected. For example‚ fixing a crèche or funding training in terms of disasters‚" said Khambule.

“Individuals and businesses tend to give more when an enormous disaster hits. A case in point‚ Knysna in June. But thereafter it slows down again. Six of our international partners pulled out and they were contributing to programme-related funding (designated funding)‚ so this has seen a decline for specific projects and programmes‚” said Khambule.

Red Cross South Africa CEO Derick Naidoo said: "At a time of escalating humanitarian crises‚ constrained budgets and in an increasingly unpredictable world‚ humanitarians need to be more agile‚ more anticipatory‚ and more alert to change.

“Second‚ we need to accept that we will increasingly need to do more with less. Concretely‚ we believe that one of the most critical steps in this direction is to invest more in local‚ grass roots action.”

Palesa Mpapa‚ legal advocacy manager for People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) said donations were evaporating.

“Things are bad‚ there’s a serious decline. On a good year we used to manage around R9-million and now it has dropped to below half that amount. On top of that‚ the government is not in a position to donate to NGO’s as much. The funding we rely on is from international donors‚ but their funding is never guaranteed. You can’t be too sure because they have requirements and sometimes they give you a contract‚ sometimes they don’t‚” said Mpapa.

Mpapa said a lack of funding had translated into unstable working conditions. “Sometimes HR has to cut salaries in order to balance out the flow of cash and ensure that we are able to run. Sometimes we don’t know if we will get paid."

Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said: "There is definitely a funding crisis; we see it through organisations that come to us to ask for relief as they are receiving less and less donations. We get requests daily from small-scale NGOs. They tell us that funding from overseas has declined because they [funders] either focus on other countries or just stop‚ while locally people are complaining about tough economic times‚” he said.

Sooliman said Gift of the Givers had diversity in their relief methods and were able to attract different types of funders.

The Johannesburg Children’s Home‚ caring for 64 children‚ saw a decline two years ago.

“There is definitely a decline across the board .... The problem is that companies are not willing to fund charities. Individuals are generous in terms of donating food‚ toiletries and their time but hardly money‚ and we appreciate the contributions but this affects the daily running of the business‚” said fundraiser Margaret Michaels.

Salvation Army Southern Africa regional spokesperson Major Carin Holmes said: "The economic crunch means that people‚ particularly pensioners‚ are thinking twice before making a donation." But many donors had remained loyal.

subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now