In our view

Is Philanthropy just another word for Charity? - The African Business Journal, 18 June 2013

I don’t think it’s just me.  The phrase “a charity case” raises the notion of an impoverished person or community desperately needing help or support because they have neither the resources nor the capacity to provide for themselves.  Charity is about helping people in need, about being benevolent towards others, about being “kindly”.

Thankfully, as humans, we are deeply capable of such benevolence towards others – humanity would be in a far sorrier state were we not supportive of, and engaged with, those around us.  This is after all the essence of community.  But not all giving falls into the Charity Case.  The world of giving is broad and complex and there are as many people with a passion for a cause as there are causes to support.

There are thousands of non-profits in South Africa that are not about “charitable causes” or social welfare ie. providing food for children and blankets to the homeless; ensuring transport for the aged; or donating wheelchairs to those unable to walk. While welfare organisations are critical to maintain services that meet basic human needs, there are thousands of other organisations that help form the backbone of our civil society. These organisations play a huge range of different roles that contribute to our social development.

King III is contentious in the non-profit sector - 11 June 2013

shelagh2By Shelagh Gastrow, Executive Director of Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement. Gastrow is also a member of the Working Group for Non-Profit Governance in South Africa.

In light of the recent headlines about retrenchments and closures in the non-profit sector, a key issue that emerges is that of good governance. Donors have real concerns about how organisations deal with governance and how their Boards oversee leadership, succession planning, financial planning, financial control and risk. It is therefore critical that the NPO sector enhances donor confidence by ensuring that they have effective governing boards that meet their fiduciary responsibilities.

The civil society landscape - 'Making CSI Matter’ - 28 May 2013

Inyathelo Executive Director Shelagh Gastrow was invited to address the 6th annual ‘Making CSI Matter’ conference in Johannesburg at the end of May. The conference is aimed at people who are grappling with CSI and development practice, and who want to refresh their thinking. Shelagh was asked to discuss the current threats and opportunities for NPOs, and how NPOs and corporate funders can find common ground.

"Multiple sites of power are crucial to a democracy and a vibrant civil society provides just that. It is estimated that there are over 100 000 organisations that make up our civil society. Some are membership-based and can therefore rightly claim to represent their own communities. Others are established by individuals and groups who are passionate about a specific cause and they create a mechanism to work in that field. Although these organisations are not membership based, they still have enormous value because they exist."

The blind spot in our understanding of philanthropy

By Alfred Thutloa, Philanthropy Programme Coordinator at Inyathelo.

On 22 April 2013, lifestyle magazine Ebony published a column by community engagement blogger Ebonie Johnson Cooper titled “Young Black Philanthropist is not an Oxymoron”. Cooper said she recently had to defend the use of the word “philanthropist” to describe herself and the cohort of young, Black community leaders who gave of their time and financial resources to help those less privileged. She had been challenged by a member of one of the wealthiest Black families in the United States, who told her that calling herself a philanthropist is like calling an average student a scholar.

Ironically, Cooper is a young African American woman living in the developed world and one would assume that with the United States boasting a long history of volunteerism and institutionalised philanthropy, her words are just meanderings of a prolific blogger. However this is not the case.

Change tax laws to make it easier to give - 12 Feb 2013 - Business Day


THE extraordinary philanthropic gesture by mining magnate Patrice Motsepe and his family has provoked a flurry of positive and negative commentary. His announcement that he will give half of the money generated by his family's assets to the Motsepe Foundation to fund education, health and other initiatives to assist poor South Africans has prompted many to ask: "What's in it for them?"

The answer is simple. The Motsepes have nothing to gain financially by giving their money away. There are no tax breaks or incentives and, once donated, they can't take the money back and their children or grandchildren cannot access the funds for personal use. So, what remains is a bit of good media coverage and a responsibility to ensure that their trust lives up to its mandate. Whether or not it delivers on the mandate will be in the hands of the trustees and their advisers.

The reality is that our tax legislation does not encourage giving beyond charitable giving. With international Ending quickly drying up, civil society has become increasingly dependent on local donors to survive. Charities and other nonprofit organisations are closing their doors at a rate of knots and valuable programmes are being discontinued, jobs are lost and our most marginalised and vulnerable citizens are abandoned. The government cannot possibly plug the funding hole left by the withdrawal of big international donors, which includes foreign governments. And, there is no government in the world that can meet all the challenges faced by all sectors of society.

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