Cost: Zero. Saving lives: Priceless.
A valuable opportunity for corporate social investments with a twist
HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED what it might be like to enjoy a quiet afternoon tea with an international icon such as Nelson Mandela? To sit with him and ask him whatever you liked without fear of interruption or embarrassment?
Or perhaps you might have daydreamed about going to an all-expenses paid Premier League football match with South African soccer legend Lucas Radebe? Or maybe if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, you might prefer a one-on-one power lunch with a top business executive such as Patrice Motsepe?
Those are just some of the many “moneycan’t-buy” occasions that ordinary people will be able to bid for at one of the more innovative charity events in South Africa: the MasterCard Priceless Moments charity initiative. Although the event is only in its second year, it’s grown into one of the biggest charity drives of its kind, both in South Africa and abroad.
The initiative was born from a visit to the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Centre for Africa (WSPCCA) by former Presidents Clinton and Mandela in 2006. The story goes that Clinton was so moved by what he saw there that he immediately donated US$30 000 (R210 000) to help two children receive heart surgery.
Not to be outdone by any American, Man- dela and Albertina Sisulu, widow of the late great Walter Sisulu – who the unit is named after and Mandela’s own lifelong mentor – offered their time to be auctioned off to raise funds for the unit.
Since then the drive has grown to include a long list of both South African and international celebrities and businessmen who give of their time to share a “priceless moment” with a winning bidder. MasterCard came on
“I always joke
with Mr Mandela – the patron of the centre – that one of the children we’ve treated will grow up
to score a winning goal
board this year as the major sponsor, absorbing all the direct costs of the event. As such, they’ve claimed the name to call it the MasterCard Priceless Moments initiative, which made for an impeccable fit with their ongoing “there are some things money can’t buy” marketing campaign.
The event has become one of the primary sources of funding for the WSPCCA, which conducts an average of 67 open heart surgery operations a year on disadvantaged children from across Africa who suffer from congenital heart defects.
“With a total of 16 beds, the unit is one of the biggest of its kind in the world and the only one in Africa. So far we’ve corrected the heart defects of 150 children from disadvantaged communities all over Africa without cost to their parents,” says Dr Robin Kinsley of the WSPCCA.
Kinsley adds: “I always joke with Mr Mandela – who is the patron of the centre – that one of these days one of the children we’ve treated will grow up to score a winning goal against SA in the African Cup and then where will we be?”
Of Africa’s 1bn population, 50% are children and one in every 100 is born with a heart defect. For all those children, their first and only chance at life is WSPCCA, since similar facilities don’t exist outside SA. Although the Walter Sisulu unit will receive 50% of the funds raised, six other children’s charities will also benefit from the initiative: namely, the Childhood Cancer Foundation, the Reach for a Dream Foundation, Cotlands, the South African Red Cross Society, the Ithemba Trust and St Mary’s Hospital.
The Priceless Moments campaign presents a unique opportunity for a new kind of corporate social investment (CSI) for companies in SA, one that requires participating executives to give of their time instead of providing funding.
This model of CSI has proved to be an effective and productive form of empowerment. However, although many companies recognise the value in the idea, they get few opportunities to utilise it. The Priceless Moments drive is such an opportunity.
The list of all local and international celebrities attending will be revealed on 7 May and the auction will go live in a gala event on 14 May at Johannesburg’s Sandton Convention Centre.
The auction will be conducted on eBay, the world’s largest online auction website, for 10 days and is expected to raise a cool R30m ($4,25m) – the equivalent of 300 heart operations.
“It costs a massive R100 000 to R200 000 to treat just one child for a heart condition, which is more than most of their parents will earn in a lifetime,” says Lynda Bleazard of the WSPCCA.
Some of the confirmed high profile participants include Lucas Radebe, Patrice Mostepe, Ryk Neethling, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Shaun Pollock, Miriam Makeba and Whitey Basson.