Philanthropy Around The World: Spotlight On South Africa

According to the Independent Philanthropy Association South Africa (IPASA) there continues to be confusion and complexity around how philanthropy works in the country and perhaps even more pertinently, how it is influenced by government. Another trend prevalent in the South African philanthropy arena is a shift towards a more strategic methodology which is focused on long-term and sustainable results.

IPASA’s recently published Annual Review of South African Philanthropy 2019 highlights additional trends in the field of philanthropy including the fact that South Africa needs more transparency if it is to truly leverage corporate social investment. However tax laws continue to be a challenge, particularly tax laws that prejudice NGOs. Most NGOs don’t have the necessary infrastructure or skills to obtain the required compliance required to benefit from tax breaks intended to benefit them with the result that 80% of NGOs are locked out the corporate funding model.

The 2018 edition of The Giving Report, published by Nedbank Private Wealth’s Philanthropy office reveals a marginal decline in the proportion of giving of South Africa’s high-net-worth individuals involved in philanthropic activities, primarily as a result of a sustained tough economic environment which has impacted even high-net-worth individuals. At the same time, however, there has been an increase in the average value of those still giving while the demographics of those involved in giving has become more diverse.

The Giving Report says that more than 80% of the country’s high-net-worth individuals continue to be motivated to make a difference to South African society.

One of these high-net-worth individuals was self-made billionaire Allan Gray, who in 2016 announced his decision to donate the profits from his Allan Gray Investment company assets to charity. The equity value of the majority stake – estimated to be billions of rands – was transferred to the Allan and Gill Gray Foundation to be managed for philanthropic endeavours both in South Africa and globally. This was not Gray’s first venture into philanthropy: in 2005 he founded the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation which invested millions of dollars into fellowship grants for emerging business leaders. According to Forbes, the Orbis Foundation received 7% of the taxed profits of Allan Gray Limited. Gray passed away in 2019.

Higher education continues to be a focus for many philanthropic organisations. According to the 2018 Annual Survey of Philanthropy in Higher Education, philanthropists, trusts and foundations gave over R1.7 billion to 11 local universities in 2017.


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