Some key findings
South Africa appears to be a nation of givers: over half of respondents (54%)
gave money to charities or other causes, a third (31%) gave food or goods to
charities or other causes, while slightly less than a fifth (17%) volunteered time
for a charity or cause, in the month prior to being interviewed. In addition to
giving to formalised institutions or causes, slightly less than half of respondents
told us they gave money and/or goods (45% respectively) not to formal charities
but directly to the poor – street children, people begging on the street and so on.
If we combine these different forms and methods of giving, we find that a
massive 93% of respondents gave (time, money or goods, to a cause or
individual) in the month before being interviewed. We deliberately cast the net as
wide as possible: these figures include respondents who made monthly financial
contributions to a charity as well as those (for example) who gave a sandwich or
cold-drink to a street child begging at a traffic light.
Giving seems to be ingrained in respondents. Even among those scoring
high on ‘alienation’ variables, 92% gave in the month prior to being interviewed,
rising to 94% among those with low levels of alienation. Similarly, we found that
poor and non-poor respondents were equally likely to have given in the month
prior to being interviewed. ‘Giving’ is not the domain of the wealthy: it is
part of everyday life for all South Africans, rich and poor alike.
In all, 77% of respondents told us they gave money (any amount) directly
to charities, causes or organisations or to poor people directly. If we add up the
amounts given to organisations and to the poor, we find that respondents who
gave money, gave a total of R100 571 at an average of R44 per respondent
who gave money.
As a nationally representative sample, we can extrapolate these findings to the
population as a whole. South African citizens mobilise almost R930m in an
average month for development and anti-poverty work. From one
perspective, this is a massive amount of money. Seen in context, it amounts to
2.2% of the total monthly income for the working age population (as measured
by Census 2001).
In all, 17% of respondents volunteered time in the month before being
interviewed; during that month, they gave an average of 11 hours each,
totalling nearly 6 000 hours. Women volunteered slightly more time than men;
African volunteers gave the most time, averaging 11 hours each in the month
before being interviewed; they were followed by coloured respondents, Indians
and lastly whites. It is important to note that the average amount of time
volunteered is constant among youth and adults (between 10 and 11 hours) and
only rises among those aged over 60 years of age (to an average of 12 hours).
Poor respondents (23%) were more likely to have volunteered than non-poor
(17%). Volunteering, in South Africa, is not the preserve of the middleclass
with time and resources at their disposal, which we also saw was true of
other types of giving.
The most deserving causes, according to respondents, are dominated by three
categories: those associated with children or youth (22%), followed by HIV/AIDS (21%) and ‘the poor’ (20%). These three are followed by a set of
smaller categories, including people with disabilities (8%) and the elderly (5%).
South Africans are highly motivated to give to local causes, but significantly less
so to international causes. Less than one in ten respondents (8%) told us they
had ever given money specifically to international causes.
For two-thirds (68%) of respondents, giving to the poor is motivated by
feelings of human solidarity – we should give because the poor have nothing,
or are suffering, or are in need, or deserve something from us. For others it
seems to be more of a rational decision to try and help tackle poverty (10%).
Almost one in ten respondents answered the question in religious terms, with 3%
telling us they gave because their God required it of them and 6% because by
giving they will be blessed.
A third (34%) of respondents told us they give to people in immediate need, and
a fifth (21%) that both short-term need and long-term solutions deserve
their support. The data suggest that both charity and development have a
support base to draw on.