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

CityPress - - Op­por­tu­nity In­dex -

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

GIVER

Karena Cronin

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