Despite another challenging year in our country, ubuntu continues to be alive and well among the majority of South Africans — especially when it comes to charitable giving.
This is according to the latest Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) Country Giving Report for South Africa which indicates how charitable activities in South Africa have remained at exceptionally high levels in the country, despite the immense challenges of the pandemic.
This latest report’s key findings indicate that:
- The vast majority of South Africans have done at least one charitable activity in the past 12 months (86%) or in the past four weeks (74%) but the overall number participating declined since 2019 (89% and 80% respectively).
- Giving directly to families in need remains one of the top two ways of giving in South Africa. Donating at church (or other religious organisation) is trending downwards but also remains in the top two most common charitable activities. The third most popular way of giving was donating money to a non-profit organisation (NPO).
- Four in five (81%) adults have taken some kind of charitable action as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Similar proportions of people donated money or goods to NPOs or community services (47%) as gave money to family, friends or people in the community (44%). More than one in three (36%) gave practical support to friends, family or those in their community.
- The most popular causes donated to are unchanged since 2017, though support for them has been greater. Three in five donors supported helping the poor (61%), whilst more than two in five supported churches and other religious organisations (44%) and supported children (43%). Fewer donors supported schools, colleges and universities (10% vs 14% in 2019).
- Although cash remains the most popular method of giving (65%), the proportion giving in this way has fallen since 2019 whilst the proportion giving by non-physical methods (i.e. Online with a bank/ credit card, using a digital wallet) has increased (to 44% and 19% respectively). This trend was likely accelerated by Covid-19: 64% now avoid using cash because of the risk of the disease.
- The majority (86%) believe that government should collaborate with NPOs in their response to the crisis and four in five (80%) think financial support should be made available to NPOs who are at risk of collapse.
The 2021 Country Giving report is based on data collected by YouGov on behalf of CAF. In South Africa, just over 1 000 interviews were completed online. The survey was conducted using YouGov’s online panel.
Due to the level of internet penetration in South Africa (at approximately 56%), the sample is representative of the urban population and is weighted to known population data on demographics including age, gender, region and ethnicity. Differences are reported at the 95% confidence level (the level of confidence that the results are a true reflection of the whole population). The maximum margin of error (the amount of random sampling error) is calculated as approximately 3%.
Generosity remains strong in SA
This latest study follows from the 2021 CAF World Giving Index, which, earlier this year, ranked South Africa 21 out of 114 surveyed counties. In the 2021 World Giving Index, South Africa was ranked 47. This year, South Africa’s ranking has jumped to 21.
Gill Bates, CEO of Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa, continues to remain positive about South Africa’s standing in the charitable giving space.
“The findings of the South Africa Giving 2021 research clearly indicate that our fellow citizens’ willingness to assist others in need has not diminished. In spite of the hardships incurred during the various lockdown levels, surveyed South Africans continued to give what they could during this period,” says Bates.
“The findings show that a significant motivator behind this giving remains faith. In addition to this, South Africans, for generations, have practised Ubuntu. This is a philosophy which speaks to recognising our shared humanity and caring for others in need,” Bates adds.
Looking more broadly at South Africa and Africa’s place in the world when it comes to giving, Bates further says that a fundamental shift appears to be occurring.
“When it comes to generosity, the CAF World Giving Index 2021 (released in June this year) highlighted that the traditional gap between the global north and the global south is closing fast,” notes Bates.
“Of the world’s ten top generous nations, four are to be found on the African continent. When it comes to the practice of helping a stranger, six of the top countries in this regard are located in Africa. Volunteering, even on a virtual basis, has also held steady,” she adds.