Working for the Greater Good

24 July 2006

Want to help charity, give back to your community, donate skills, time and money and generally change the world – but don’t know where to start? South African philanthropy is now just a click of a mouse away, thanks to Greater Good South Africa.

Greater Good South Africa Greater Good raises support for the work of South African charities and promotes a culture of philanthropy in the country, with the ultimate aim of “eradicating extreme poverty in our lifetimes”.

Through its comprehensive interactive website, the organisation creates innovative ways for businesses and individuals to help the work of non-profit development organisations of their choice.

Greater Good fosters a long-term relationship between people and causes, encouraging donations of money, second-hand and surplus goods, skills and time.

In return, it provides details on the objectives, activities and performance of charities, including clear information on their needs. The organisation allows donors to “experience the gift of giving” by providing ongoing feedback on how their contributions have made a difference.

Greater Good is sponsored by the Shuttleworth Foundation, Noah Financial Innovation, Cadiz, Deutsche Bank, SAA Voyager, eBucks, American Express and Kaehlo.

Its website has a well-stocked community noticeboard allowing charities to request money and services, and donors to offer money, goods and time to specific causes and organisations.

Greater Good also runs a number of campaigns with innovative ways of helping charities. Recent campaigns include the Giving Exchange, Teachers Dream, Do It Day and Donate-a-Book.

The Giving Exchange
“The Giving Exchange aims to raise the bar for giving and receiving in South Africa,” says Greater Good on its website. “The challenge is for South Africans enjoying a 21st century lifestyle to effectively get resources to where they are needed most in our communities.”

The Giving Exchange allows ordinary people, businesses and charities to meet and come up with new and effective contributions that involve more than money. It allows causes to access the expertise, skills, talents and resources they need.

Some 125 charities are selected – by vote – to participate in Giving Exchange expos, held in major centres. The campaign allows donors to compare and select who to support, based on their own criteria.

Teachers Dream
Teachers Dream, a partnership between Greater Good and the Shuttleworth Foundation, aims to improve education by connecting donors to educators who need grants for projects that improve education in South Africa.

More often than not it is teachers who have brilliant ideas of how to make maths and science come alive, how best to demonstrate life skills, how to show children the geography of the land and how to explore the arts.

Exciting and worthwhile proposals – projects, outings, and activities – from dedicated teachers are posted on the Greater Good website. Donors may then contribute to fulfil that dream. Most Teachers Dream proposals require grants of less than R5 000 – time and goods can also be donated.

“Many great educator ideas could easily come to fruition with support of relatively small grants,” says Greater Good. “In real terms, it actually doesn’t cost that much to take a class of Grade 4 learners to the planetarium or the Grade 10s to an inspiring exhibition.”

At its launch, the Teachers Dream initiative received warm praise from Education Miniser Naledi Pandor.

“Teachers Dream is inclusive,” she said. “Its reach transcends geographical space, enabling school communities that are remote or rural to be as connected to South African giving communities as their urban counterparts.

“This project will give pupils an opportunity to realise their full potential by exposing them to a variety of career prospects.”

An important condition of a Teachers Dream donation is that successful educators report back to funders. They are given a disposable camera to record their dream and post it back along with written feedback. Their report is then posted on the Greater Good website.

Do It Day
Do It Day takes charity beyond money. Greater Good has set aside 28 October 2005 as the day “South Africans will be rolling up their sleeves and assisting causes to achieve specific one-day projects”.

The campaign aims to connect causes to volunteers so they can benefit from work and skills not normally available.

In July and August development organisations all over South Africa and submitted one-day projects that need volunteers. Do It Day projects range from developing business and marketing plans to building, renovating and gardening. There’s something for everyone.

The Do It Day projects are posted on the Greater Good website, and volunteers can sign up individually or as a team.

Projects include an action fun day for Aids orphans, planting a tea garden at the Sparrow Skills Centre, developing a marketing and communications strategy for a positive parenting organisation, and both training in bookkeeping and installing windows and doors for the Siyakhula charity.

Donate-a-Book
“In South Africa, poverty excludes many children from the enrichment that reading brings,” Greater Good says on its website.

“A brighter, better future for all South Africans becomes more likely if we are busy now raising generations of thoughtful, independent life-long learners – and reading is the key to that.”

Greater Good encourages online donations to buy books, in support of the work of organisations such as READ, Biblionef SA, the South African Children’s Book Forum and the Athlone School for the Blind Braille Production Programme.

Donation vouchers range in price from R50, which buys a book for a pre-schooler, to R5 000 – buying a starter library for a poor school.

SouthAfrica.info reporter

Using SAinfo material Want to use this article in your publication or on your website?
See: Using SAinfo material