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Four Disruptive Trends in Local Charitable Giving

  • 4 min read

With Covid-19 taking its toll on every aspect of our lives, non-profit organisations that rely on public donations are confronted with the challenge of continuing to do their critical work but with less guaranteed income. This is a grim reality underscored by extensive research in the non-profit sector.

The work of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is essential in South Africa, particularly when it comes to tackling some of the country’s most pressing socio-economic and environmental challenges. To suggest that 2020 was a difficult year for this sector is something of an understatement. Due to national lockdown restrictions and social-distancing requirements, in-person fundraising events were out of the question, forcing many organisations to adapt and embrace virtual events and fundraising.

One organisation that continues to prove its versatility and resilience in this regard is the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF South Africa).

Justin Smith, Head of Business Development at WWF South Africa, reflects: “This has been an extraordinarily difficult time for so many people and organisations from all walks of life, including ours. Public health is rightly the priority during a pandemic. We are consequently incredibly grateful to the donors, volunteers and colleagues, among them NGO partners, who have continued to help us fight the challenges that face our environment and communities. These include climate change, water scarcity, food security, environmental degradation and more.”

The shifts

In the face of difficult circumstances, WWF South Africa has noted some interesting trends in public-giving that have started to emerge:

  • As a start, public fundraising is increasingly aided by digital, as well as social media fundraising campaigns. It is therefore important to approach potential supporters and donors on their preferred digital platforms. The growth in virtual crowdfunding and peer-to-peer funding are also exciting developments.
  • Workplace ‘giving’ programs provide new and exciting platforms for employees to give back to their communities – with time, goods or funds.
  • Additionally, innovative loyalty programmes, like ‘My School My Village My Planet’ which rewards consumers with donations to worthy causes, have also proved to be valuable avenues to connect non-profits with conscious consumers.
  • Despite the personal challenges experienced by so many currently, Gen Z along with millennials remain extremely focused on driving positive change in their communities and the world, according to the Deloitte’s 2020 Global Millennial Survey. Deloitte found that climate change and protecting the environment were among the top priorities for the youth at this time. While donors aged 45 and above and corporates continue to lead donations to WWF South Africa, the NGO has seen a steady increase in donations from millennials in recent years.

Building the future

Providing support to an NGO contributes to the overall ability of an organisation to build robust institutional structures and systems which enable smooth operations. In the case of responsible NGOs, the majority of funds are directed towards helping to solve a specific socio-economic or environmental challenge.

“In WWF South Africa’s case, 84% of the donation is spent directly on conservation projects, while 11% goes towards fundraising, and the remaining 5% is used for office support. Receiving donor support, whether it be corporate or individual, confers a great responsibility on us as an organisation. We do not take this lightly,” adds Smith.

While WWF South Africa recognises that money is tight in today’s difficult economy, the organisation greatly values the public and corporate support that helps it to realise its conservation outcomes and community benefits. “The future of our work depends on the faith, trust and generosity of our donors. Open and accountable partnerships are important to us. We want our donors to know how their money is invested and how it helps us to deploy resources where they are most needed to preserve the environmental resources – such as food, energy, water and an abundance of species – which support human life on earth,” concludes Smith.