CAF Southern Africa’s (CAFSA) purpose is to encourage a vibrant philanthropic culture in South Africa. CAFSA’s definition of philanthropy encompasses all forms of corporate, private and individual giving, including volunteering. It believes that organisations of civil society play critical roles, providing relief from all the ills associated with poverty and marginalisation. Established in 2000, CAFSA is a registered nonprofit and public benefit organisation and Proudly South African. In addition, it is a member of the Global Alliance of the Charities Aid Foundation, headquartered in the United Kingdom and comprising members in Bulgaria, Russia, South Africa, India, Australia, America and Brazil.
CAFSA believes that giving and other forms of social investment by companies, institutions and individuals is necessary to strengthen the effectiveness of civil society organisations so that they may continue to provide support within poor communities. Most of these are nonprofit organisations established to achieve a social purpose. They do not have the capacity to earn income – indeed income generation may potentially divert organisations from their core social objectives. CAFSA therefore facilitates financial and associated philanthropic support to these organisations. It is committed to advancing and adding value to these contributions by promoting innovation, fostering leadership, and encouraging cooperation.
At the level of policy, CAFSA has since inception, provided strong leadership to influence a more enabling environment for giving and consequent civil society action. For example, from the late 1990s, even before CAF was formally constituted, senior staff were involved in advocacy groupings which influenced the tax and associated legislative environment. Similarly in the early 2000s CAF led a consultative process on non-profit governance which culminated in a regional conference and a governance code which was widely adopted.
In the area of corporate social investment (CSI) and employee community involvement (ECI), CAFSA has been a strong influencer. It promotes developmental and transformative models of corporate engagement as we believe that corporate South Africa’s substantial social investments should be used in the best interests of all surrounding communities. For example, it assists corporates to develop CSI policies and plans that ensure that both the business and the community obtain value. Its most well-known corporate contributions are employee involvement programmes – it encourages corporates to establish payroll giving programmes whereby employees donate to a cause of their choice every month. Its also encourages the company to ‘match’ employee contributions on a ‘Rand for Rand’ basis as this provides double the benefit for the chosen NGO.
The organisation endeavours to build sustained and mutually respectful relationships between corporates, their employees and the NGO partners. For example, rather than ‘one-off’ employee volunteering ‘events’, it works with corporates to craft programmatic and developmental approaches to their volunteering. This includes investment of time, talent and money for the benefit of the chosen organisation. A wonderful example of this approach by Sasol worked for the benefit of the Hope School this year. CAFSA has worked with Sasol to develop policies, systems and internal marketing of the group volunteering programme. Culminating during Mandala Week, it worked with Sasol to completely renovate the boys’ dormitory at the Hope School. Substantial financial investment was enriched by the manual labour over 100 Sasol employee volunteers.
Its most recent advocacy activities have been firstly working with partner organisations to review the funding and associated sustainability environment for South African civil society. This Coalition of organisations has published a report ‘Critical Perspectives on the Sustainability of the South African Civil Society Sector’. Including an assessment of the functioning of the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) and the National Development Agency (NDA), the report represents the outcome of extensive research and consultation. The objective is to improve the practice of government grant-making and investment in the sector, and in the process contribute to an effective enabling regulatory environment for South African civil society,.
The other cooperative project in which CAFSA has recently been involved was the consultative process which has culminated in publication of ‘The Independent Code of Governance for Nonprofit Organisations in South Africa’. The Code has been distributed widely and very well-received within civil society.
Since 2010 CAFSA has been based at Arts on Main in the vibrant Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg’s central business district. The organisation has partnered with Propertuity, the Maboneng Precinct management to facilitate community development and upliftment programmes for the communities in the surrounding areas including projects at the Mai Mai Crèche (care-givers for the children of the Mai Mai Market traders – Johannesburg’s oldest Traditional Market), the Curious Cave and the Little Roses Crèche.
For more about Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa, refer to www.cafsouthernafrica.org.