SA’s champions of giving
Contributing to those in need doesn’t have to come down to money, writes Karena Cronin. Your time and skills can often have the biggest effect
It can be hard to make giving part of our everyday lives. Our days are often marathons in which we race between the demands of family and work, while some of us are contending with the pressures of studying. Whenever possible, we try to fit in leisure time with friends and family.
So when our minds do turn to giving, we are often overwhelmed by the extent of the needs of fellow South Africans and wonder where to start.
No matter your age or situation in life, the holiday season is a time to reconnect with the spirit of giving and the potential it has to give meaning to our lives, support those in need and contribute to building our nation into the best it can be.
Now this shouldn’t be too hard, given our strong traditions of giving. Compared with our Southern African Development Community neighbours, South Africa is the second most generous nation when it comes to giving time (28%), donating money (19%) and helping strangers (73%), according to the 2015 World Giving Index published annually by the Charities Aid Foundation.
Out of 145 countries globally, South Africa ranks 49th, while Kenya is ranked 11th and Nigeria 43rd. While our showing is strong, there is room to grow.
At a time when a person’s sense of worth is too often defined by material and financial gain, South Africa tops the inequality charts, and the unabating news of violence at home and abroad threatens to shake our faith in humanity.
Perhaps we want to use this holiday season to spread hope through giving and start our ascent from 49th place to first on the World Giving Index.
Whether you already give and want to give more or differently, or if you are ready to start giving, here are some ideas to consider:
Volunteer your skills, along with your time
Why not take time out to volunteer this season or identify a longer-term volunteering opportunity, which you can start next year?
Whether you are a builder, accountant, stay-at-home mum, student, entrepreneur, project manager, driver, nurse, artist, retired professional or top executive, you have skills that can be turned into gifts this season.
Harvard University Professor Robert Putnam describes volunteering and civic engagement as “the new hybrid health club for the 21st century that’s free to join and miraculously improves both your health and the community’s through the work performed and the social ties built”.
Not-for-profit organisations often list volunteering