HOW TO FIND A LE­GIT­I­MATE CHAR­ITY TO SUP­PORT

CityPress - - Business - AN­GELIQUE RUZICKA busi­ness@city­press.co.za

Sup­port­ing a char­ity – per­haps even on a reg­u­lar ba­sis – may be top of mind fol­low­ing Man­dela Day, par­tic­u­larly if you did your 67 min­utes and en­joyed the ex­pe­ri­ence of giv­ing back. But how do you find the right char­ity to back and, more im­por­tantly, how do you find one that is le­git­i­mate? Sadly, in South Africa there have been a num­ber of re­ports about peo­ple who pur­port to be “do-good­ers”, but who then take peo­ple’s money and van­ish with all of the funds that were orig­i­nally given out of good­will.

One of the best ways to find out if a char­ity is le­git­i­mate is to es­tab­lish whether it has been reg­is­tered with the depart­ment of so­cial de­vel­op­ment – a ba­sic search can be con­ducted on the depart­ment’s web­site.

On­line plat­forms such as For­good.co.za, which link vol­un­teers to reg­is­tered char­i­ties, and Back­abuddy.co.za where you can be linked to peo­ple who want to do sports or other ac­tiv­i­ties to raise funds for non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tions (NPOs) can also pro­vide you with some cer­tainty that you are deal­ing with ac­cred­ited or­gan­i­sa­tions.

For­good.co.za goes one step fur­ther in match­ing you to the right char­ity in your area.

“It’s so im­por­tant to get the right peo­ple with the right or­gan­i­sa­tions and get that match. The first step is to think: ‘What speaks to me: is it an­i­mals or chil­dren? What is my pas­sion?’ The next is: ‘What are my re­sources? Is it time, skills or money?’ From there you can find op­por­tu­ni­ties and this is where For­good comes in nicely. You can search through var­i­ous fil­ters and find op­por­tu­ni­ties in your area that re­late to your pas­sion and skill,” says Katherine Robert­son, pro­gramme man­ager of For­good.co.za.

The right pa­per­work

Robert­son says there are a num­ber of other things you can do to check an NPO’s cre­den­tials. These in­clude ask­ing for an NPO cer­tifi­cate, a pub­lic ben­e­fit or­gan­i­sa­tion (PBO) cer­tifi­cate and SA Rev­enue Ser­vice clear­ance. “When you want to do­nate to an or­gan­i­sa­tion that isn’t well known what’s im­por­tant, if you are con­cerned, is to ask for reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­men­ta­tion in terms of an NPO cer­tifi­cate. You can also re­quest a site visit. If they say no, then be wary,” ad­vises Robert­son.

How­ever, some char­i­ties may have le­git­i­mate rea­sons for not invit­ing you to their premises. Some may refuse be­cause they want to pro­tect their bene­fac­tors, for ex­am­ple some char­i­ties may deal with abused women and chil­dren and want to keep the de­tails of the peo­ple liv­ing at their premises con­fi­den­tial so that abusers won’t try to find them.

While some gov­ern­ment struc­tures do make it dif­fi­cult for char­i­ties to es­tab­lish them­selves, Robert­son says we should also be con­cerned if an NPO claims that it hasn’t man­aged to get its pa­per­work in or­der. “There isn’t an ex­cuse if they don’t have an NPO cer­tifi­cate as that’s not hard to get. Not hav­ing a PBO cer­tifi­cate is ex­cus­able as it can be more dif­fi­cult to ob­tain. A tax clear­ance cer­tifi­cate is also not dif­fi­cult to get. A lot of char­i­ties do dis­play cer­tifi­cates on their walls and entrance halls, and most char­i­ties have them on file any­way as they get asked for them a lot,” she ex­plains.

Asif Mo­hamed, ed­i­tor of on­line pub­li­ca­tion The Al­tru­ist, adds: “Many char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tions also of­fer sec­tion 18A tax cer­tifi­cates, which al­low donors to claim on their VAT and for do­na­tions from their pri­vate ac­counts.”

So­cial-me­dia fol­low­ing

There are also more sub­tle ways to check whether a char­ity does what it prom­ises to do. We live in a more con­nected world which means we can do a lot more snoop­ing and re­search on­line. Plat­forms such as Face­book and Twit­ter can pro­vide in­for­ma­tion on things we do every day and the same goes for char­i­ties. Web­sites and so­cial-me­dia pages give sup­port­ers a way to find out what a char­ity is do­ing and mon­i­tor it. “Some NPOs claim to make a huge dif­fer­ence but there is no ev­i­dence to back it up. If it is not that so­phis­ti­cated, they should at least have photos of the work they do, tes­ti­mo­ni­als from peo­ple who sup­port them and they should have some statis­tics of how many peo­ple they as­sisted,” says Amanda Blank­field-Kos­eff, founder and CEO of the Youth Cit­i­zens Ac­tion Pro­gramme, which is pow­ered by the Em­pow­er­vate Trust.

Find out how long a char­ity has been around. If they have a track record it should be easy to find. “Look them up and see what peo­ple say about them on Face­book and you can see if any­thing has come up in the me­dia about them,” adds Robert­son.

Once you’ve cho­sen a reg­is­tered char­ity to sup­port, find out best way to make a do­na­tion. Some may have reg­is­tered on var­i­ous on­line plat­forms in or­der to ad­ver­tise what they do, but sup­port­ing them in this way may not be as ef­fi­cient. “Check what the com­mis­sion is on each do­na­tion as some are ex­tremely high and there­fore the NPO gets a much smaller por­tion of the do­na­tions – like the SMS lines where the cell providers take up to 50%,” points out Blank­field-Kos­eff.

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