by Sophie Hobbs

How can we help you?

Help to build a real movement for change by giving

Did the FNB campaign leave you thinking?
Build a better SA by giving

January’s First National Bank campaign and subsequent hoo-ha left many of us thinking: now what was that all about? We look at how individuals can influence change, without the need for expensive awareness campaigns.

The FNB advert directed me to a website called YouCanHelp.com. I went to the site to find out how I could help. There was a button to contribute my story (I don’t have a story that would interest anyone) and there was a banner advert for FNB (encouraging me to switch to FNB). There was no donation button, no call to action and no link to any organisations working in communities or in education.

FNB’s objective for the campaign was “to stimulate social consciousness around the power of help to build a better South Africa,” says Bernice Samuels, FNB chief marketing officer, on the bank's website. The intention is admirable, but my question remains: how can I help?

 

Challenges

We live in one of the most unequal societies in the world. The challenges we face as a nation are many and complex: slow economic growth, low skills, unemployment, poverty, service gaps, poor health and a frustration with the pace of change that is increasingly boiling over into violence.

Times are tough and money is short. People have less to spend and so do companies and governments. It is no suprise that 80% of non-profit organisations report significant funding cuts and over 64% have had to cut services to their beneficiaries.

Good intentions are simply not enough anymore.

Action by experts

The FNB campaign focused on education and it is true that our education system is in crisis. But what many South Africans do not know – and which FNB’s campaign ignores – is that there are many, many excellent organisations working to tackle the crisis across the country.

These organisations are independent of government, but work effectively with them. They are experts in the field, drawing from international best practice and sharing our own African experience with the world. They have documented models that are proven to work.

And they need your help.

Just give

How can you help them? Just give. Give regularly and reliably so that these organisations can do what they do best. They do not need volunteers or old books, more Likes on Facebook or Youtube views. They need money to find, incubate and scale up solutions.

“But what difference will I make with my paltry R20 a month?” you ask.

Power to influence change

The truth is that ordinary individuals have enormous power to influence change. By giving regularly to charity and committing their support over the long term, they allow civil society to remain independent of the state and, crucially, do what they do best in a sustainable way. Because the gift is not ring-fenced, individual givers are in essence saying: “You are the experts in your field; take this money and spend it where your experience tells you it will make the most difference.”

Regular individual giving – even very small amounts – enables organisations to fund their core costs and plan ahead, developing new and better ways to help their beneficiaries. It is the gold dust of funding, and contributes massively to social development. If you really do not have anything to spare, there is always fund-raising activism, whereby you can have fun doing crazy things to raise money for a good cause.

Giving like this helps to leverage other types of funding and income: individuals are also consumers, parents, friends, employees, managers and leaders. A culture of individual giving will prompt more businesses to realise that the very best corporate social investment is multi-year, substantial partnerships with professional and accountable organisations that are delivering evidence-based interventions in communities.

 

Choice and checks

There is also the tricky question of choice. “Who do I support when there are so many in need, and how do I make the right choice?”

If you are not sure about whom to give to or where to find a good cause, start by using an online community such as www.myggsa.co.za or www.givengain.com  that lists and checks organisations to make sure they are above board. Once you’ve found a cause you like, get in touch and let them tell you what they do. Build a relationship with them and you will be amazed at how fulfilling it can be.

 

Help to build a real movement for change by giving. And let us all reap a better future for South Africa.

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