Despite our compromised and deteriorating economy, from rising unemployment, weak investor sentiment and lingering policy uncertainty, resulting in a marginal decline in the proportion of South Africa’s high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) who are involved in humanitarian activities, those who are still giving have increased the value of their largesse.
Furthermore, the demographics of giving are changing and steadily becoming more diverse.
According to the report, the proportion of HNWI giving money, time or goods in 2018 remained high. However, there is a declining trend, from 94% in 2010, 91% in 2012, 88% in 2015, down to 83% in 2018.
This is to be expected as even the wealthier members of society feel the pressure of a sustained tough global economic climate, said Noxolo Hlongwane, head of philanthropy at Nedbank Private Wealth.
“It is heartening to observe that more than 80% of our nation’s high-net-worth individuals are still moved by the increasing challenges they see so many of their fellow South Africans facing, and are highly motivated to make a positive difference to South Africa society,” she said.
She said this sincere desire to help had seen many of them provide even more support to the causes that are close to their hearts.
“If you contrast that with corporates, where more than 50% of corporate giving goes towards education, which for different reasons seeks to create a more educated workforce, individual giving is more values-driven, which then aligns with the sectors they support,” she said.
The report found that giving behaviour is significantly motivated by personal values such as religion, personal and family involvement, and through socialisation by friends and peers.
The sector that receives the most support is social and community development which comprises vulnerable individuals, orphanages, the elderly and people with disabilities, followed by education and health.
“Over 60% goes towards non-profit organisations and the balance to unrelated individuals,” said Hlongwane.
Bongiwe Mlangeni, CEO of the Social Justice Initiative (SJI), said the report was very interesting.
“When we speak to civil society organisations that we support they often say, ‘there is lack of resources’, ‘we can’t find the money’… There’s an obsession about scarcity of money, but this report is contradicting that and saying there is more money going around in fact.
“The Trialogue Business in Society report, when they look at corporates, they also came back and said there is an increase in giving from corporate South Africa to non-profits locally. So where is this idea of scarcity coming from?” she said.
She said the problem is allocation, and while it is commendable that SA’s high-net-worth individuals are placing a lot of value in children and the elderly, which shows that they value the well-being of the most vulnerable, she is still concerned, from what the report shows, that they are least invested in democracy, good governance and social justice
“To change the lives of vulnerable children, the future of this country, you cannot not be involved in shifting the system that creates the vulnerability, because that is where the change lies,” she said.
Sarah Scarth, the director for global programmes and strategy for the Resource Alliance (RA), said it was interesting that the drivers of high-net-worth individuals are the same for ordinary South Africans.
“That’s what we see through the work that we do in strengthening organisations of every size and type to be able to deliver on their mission for a better world.”
She said the challenge is the accessibility of organisations to the money itself. The RA looks at the tools and resources that will help democratise knowledge so that more organisations are able to access these funds which are clearly in abundance.
Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, and a philanthropist in her own right, said that having grown up under adversity, she knows what giving achieves and that it should be done without any expectations.
“I don’t know how not to do it; it makes me feel human. We shouldn’t give because we have, you don’t give from your excess, you give from what you have and that is true giving,” she said. DM