Charity, benevolence, kindness, compassion, goodwill, generosity – call it what you will.  The Oxford dictionary defines charity as “the voluntary giving of help or money to those in need ”.

1. When are charity organisations formed?

It usually starts with someone identifying a need in a community, whether it being a need of an immediate family member or friend, a cause that lies close to their hearts or whether it is the need to do something good for someone else. 

Many “informal” charities operate by relying on the generosity of others to assist in the cause.  The funds that are desperately needed are securely in the coffers of individuals and corporates alike, who are all too willing to assist…. but T & C’s apply.  Provided the donations are made to a charity that is SARS approved and is registered in terms of section 18a of the Income Tax Act, bona fide donors will receive a donation receipt which allows them a maximum deduction of 10% on taxable income.  And then there is the issue of BEE points…

2. Why do people volunteer?

In a recent interview with Lorraine Tebbutt, Charity Shop Manager at Ann Harding Cheshire Home in Northwold, she shared her experiences and thoughts as to why she believes people volunteer:

  • People have spare time on their hands;
  • Some volunteers see it as “me-time”;
  • People feel they want to do something good for someone else;
  • It becomes a social event where friends meet every week;
  • You spend time with like-minded people;
  • Some people feel they need to find a purpose again;
  • Learners and students participate as it is a part of school programmes;
  • Some psychologists encourage certain patients to volunteer.

She also shared a comical story that happened a few years ago.  An 84-year old lady volunteered every week, being on her feet all day and doing manual work (not always suitable for a lady her age).  When asked why she volunteers, she replied: “My husband is retired, and I have to escape the house for a couple of hours a week – he is driving me insane.” 

3. Why do most people only do charitable deeds on Mandela Day or during Mandela month?

In a short survey I recently conducted, the answers supplied to the question was this:

  • It is your social responsibility;
  • Media creates awareness;
  • Fear of rejection by co-workers as companies expect it from their employees;
  • It is the only time of the year people seem to find the time;
  • It is fashionable during this time.

4. Bedsides the time factor, why don’t more people get involved in charity work?

Even more amusing responses to this question from my survey:

  • The world is full of selfish people;
  • People are ignorant;
  • Out of sight, out of mind.

The respondent felt that there needs to be a connection to a cause and that people are already feeling overwhelmed with their own day-to-day challenges.

5. Where do you draw the line?


There is no question that charity work can be very draining, especially if you are in the frontlines: working directly with animals, babies and children, disabled individuals, the elderly, etc.  One needs to draw an emotional line and be cautious of others becoming emotionally reliant on you.  This is no easy task because we are emotional beings, but for self-preservation you need to be strict with others (and yourself). 


You need to establish how much you are prepared to spend and stick to it!  One can easily fall into the trap of helping others and then being at a short end with no one willing to assist you.


6. Should community service then become a bigger part of the school curriculum, where learners could be recognised with half colours / full colours

In one of the affluent schools in Johannesburg, community engagement already forms part of the honours blazer accolades.  With the need in our country being so great, one would hope that all schools follow this example.

7. It’s not about YOU

During CSR initiatives, corporates should contact their charity of choice and find out what is needed, opposed to what they feel like giving / doing.  Charities are often told what the corporate is willing to do or give and many times it is not on the Needs list.  In turn, the organisation is fearful that they will be perceived as unappreciative, so they graciously accept the offer of things and services that are not a priority.

One must wonder if, for once, the need of the less fortunate could be address without the attitude of “What’s in it for me?”