April 8, 2010; Business Report | There is much about this article about giving in South Africa that resonates with the U.S. experience; philanthropists weighing whether to give more now or maintain the corpus of charitable funds, more money flowing to public/private partnerships for instance and a return to “welfare giving” as opposed to giving to “causes and capacity-building”.

Although there has been no research done recently on how much South Africans donate, observers relying on anecdotal evidence cite positive signs. For instance, the paper writes that people who traditionally give to charity “are bending over backwards to maintain the size of their donations to the needy.” In addition, Shelagh Gastrow, executive director of the SA Institute for Advancement, says wealthy South Africans are “definitely still giving.”

Not surprisingly, the biggest noticeable drop in donations is coming from people classified as those who give as they “earn.” These are individuals who “live from paycheck to paycheck.” The paper also notes that some wealthy givers with endowed funds are being cautious not to “delve into the capital that generates interest income for philanthropic causes.”

The article quotes a South African philanthropist, Amanda Bloch, who says she has seen an increase in volunteerism in the country over the past two-and-a-half years. “With the recession, people are saying they can’t give money, but they can give time.” She adds that more people are choosing to donate their time to serve people in the lowest-income communities “Whether it’s unemployed grandmothers opening daycare facilities, or looking after the aged, or HIV/Aids caring, they are springing up all over the place.”—Bruce Trachtenberg and Ruth McCambridge