A culture of hope

Since 1997 the Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa (Cafsa) has been promoting and facilitating philanthropy in South Africa, driven by a vision to make giving and social investment a part of everyday life.

Cafsa aims to stimulate an integrated approach to social responsibility in the corporate sector, where business and social strategies are aligned and developmental values underpin community involvement.

They have worked with organisations and individuals to promote leadership, co-operation, innovation and value within the non-profit sector.

Their goal is to strengthen its effect in society and ensure that the work done, the time given and the funds shared are used to the maximum to make a difference to the lives of people in South Africa.

Colleen du Toit, chief executive for Cafsa, says: “We work directly with NGOs and donors to support their progress and sustainability and also inform their funding strategies. The aim of our work is to strengthen the effectiveness of the NGO sector through the development of a strong, indigenous philanthropy culture.”

As a member of the Charities Aid Foundation Global Alliance, Cafsa is able to merge deep local knowledge and understanding with expert international knowledge and best practice. The nine Global Alliance offices are located in the US, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, India, Russia, South Africa, South East Asia and the UK.

“The most substantial part of Cafsa’s work is in the corporate sector, where we advise companies on strategic approaches to their social investment activities,” says Du Toit, “An important aspect of this work is to help organisations establish employee community involvement (ECI) programmes that create real benefits for communities, employees and the businesses themselves.”

Cafsa plays the role of mentor and advisor within the NGO sector and connects organisations with potential donors and volunteers. Their NGO database extends to over 500 organisations that have met stringent due diligence standards and thus achieved accreditation within Cafsa.

“The latest estimates show that around 75% of South African corporates support some form of employee involvement and we encourage the alignment of employee contributions with over-arching developmental goals,” says Du Toit. “There is a growing interest in employee involvement throughout South Africa. However, the transformative potential of these actions is not always realised.”

Cafsa gives businesses the tools and expertise they need to develop strategically aligned employee volunteer programmes that do more than just tick a box; it makes a difference. Their facilitation of relationships between companies, their employees and the host NGO ensures that the impact of volunteering is meaningful and long term.

Supporting payroll giving
Payroll giving is one of the most sustainable ways of leveraging social responsibility through employee involvement, however, only about 22% of South African companies offer this as a benefit.

“This collective and largely untapped resource has the potential to swell development resources while enhancing corporate citizenship profiles,” says Du Toit. “For example, the latest available statistics on Australian payroll giving shows that 100 000 employees donated $28-million through 2850 employers during 2010.”

Unfortunately the South African Revenue Services does not, as yet, collect similar statistics. However, if 10% of South Africa’s 13-million employed people each contributed R50 a month from their salaries, this would amount to an additional R780-million each year invested in development or charity programmes.

Several companies that support payroll giving also offer a “rand for rand” match investment that doubles the value.

“There is a slow, but discernible shift towards more strategic approaches,” says Du Toit.

“A number of Cafsa’s corporate clients are implementing comprehensive employee involvement programmes that are planned to align with business strategies and make sustained social contributions at the same time.

"We are pleased with the role that Cafsa is playing in this evolution. We believe that these contributions by corporates and their employees have the potential to make a positive developmental impact in South African communities. In the process they help to build business success and active citizenship.”

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