Al­tru­ism gains trac­tion in SA

Sunday Times - - Business Times - By ASHA SPECK­MAN

● Move over the Ru­perts and other icons of South African phi­lan­thropy, a grow­ing num­ber of the black elite are wad­ing into this ter­ri­tory as SA grap­ples with be­ing among the most un­equal so­ci­eties in the world.

Wealthy fam­i­lies in SA, in gen­eral, con­tinue to cre­ate phil­an­thropic foun­da­tions de­spite bad news about the econ­omy, poor state fi­nances and po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges.

This week the Mot­sepe Foun­da­tion, founded by bil­lion­aire Pa­trice Mot­sepe and his med­i­cal doc­tor wife Pre­cious Moloi-Mot­sepe, an­nounced a R100m fund for job cre­ation in col­lab­o­ra­tion with faith-based or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“There’s a grow­ing in­ter­est in phi­lan­thropy among emerg­ing black elites. Some will es­tab­lish foun­da­tions but they tend to be more non­prof­its where they raise other money,” said She­lagh Gas­trow, edi­tor of the first An­nual Re­view of South African Phi­lan­thropy, which will be launched to­mor­row.

“I think there’s far more aware­ness around what phi­lan­thropy is and the word phi­lan­thropy. Fif­teen years ago this was seen as a kind of very elit­ist, strange, im­ported word but I think it’s gained cur­rency … I think it’s some­thing that’s gain­ing in im­por­tance [as part of] peo­ple’s val­ues and what they want to achieve in life,” Gas­trow said.

Un­like char­i­ta­ble con­tri­bu­tions, phi­lan­thropy in SA does not re­ceive a tax ben­e­fit.

Bhekinkosi Moyo, ad­junct pro­fes­sor and di­rec­tor of the African Cen­tre on Phi­lan­thropy and So­cial In­vest­ment at Wits Busi­ness School, says in the re­view that “acts that re­lieve im­me­di­ate hu­man suf­fer­ing tend to be treated as char­ity, for ex­am­ple the hu­man­i­tar­ian re­sponses to nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and emer­gen­cies, while ac­tions to pro­mote de­vel­op­ment are viewed as phi­lan­thropy”.

The ex­tent of phi­lan­thropy in SA is so far anec­do­tal. Nu­mer­ous re­searchers have failed to quan­tify the bil­lions of rands poured into phi­lan­thropy an­nu­ally and the size of the sec­tor as many phi­lan­thropists op­er­ate un­der the radar.

The phi­lan­thropy sec­tor in gen­eral ex­pe­ri­enced a shake-up dur­ing SA’s so-called wasted decade un­der for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, when cor­rup­tion ran ram­pant, lead­ing to the ero­sion of state fi­nances and the ca­pac­ity of state-owned com­pa­nies, de­part­ments and in­sti­tu­tions.

“You’re find­ing all over SA a mas­sive growth in com­mu­nity-based or­gan­i­sa­tions,” Gas­trow said. These ranged from feed­ing schemes, aid to the el­derly, school sup­port and pro­grammes to keep youth off the street. “We’re get­ting growth in non­profit en­ti­ties to try and deal with what is essen­tially gov­ern­ment fail­ure.” There was “huge pres­sure on phi­lan­thropy to fund those things”.

The flood of for­eign aid typ­i­cal of SA’s ear­lier years of democ­racy was dwin­dling as global pri­or­i­ties shifted to ad­dress im­mi­gra­tion and refugee chal­lenges in coun­tries, such as Ger­many, that for­merly made sub­stan­tial do­na­tions to SA.

Sarah Ren­nie, chair of the Grindrod Fam­ily Cen­te­nary Trust and of the In­de­pen­dent Phi­lan­thropy As­so­ci­a­tion of SA coun­cil, un­der whose aus­pices the an­nual re­view will be launched in Stel­len­bosch, said trends in phi­lan­thropy went be­yond in­di­vid­u­als writ­ing a cheque to the lo­cal old age home. “There’s a sense that we’ve re­ally got to cre­ate some kind of mean­ing­ful pos­i­tive change that has a big­ger mo­men­tum than just in­di­vid­ual char­i­ta­ble acts.”

We’re get­ting a growth in non­profit en­ti­ties to try and deal with essen­tially gov­ern­ment fail­ure She­lagh Gas­trow

Edi­tor, An­nual Re­view of South African Phi­lan­thropy

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