South Africans Amongst Most Generous, Says New Philanthropy Report  


South African high net worth individuals are amongst the world’s most generous philanthropists, giving both their time and money to charitable causes, according to Absa Wealth, citing a new report, Global Giving: The Culture of Philanthropy, from Barclays Wealth.

South Africa was found to be the second most financially generous nation behind the United States, and when it came to measuring which nations were the most generous in giving of their time, South Africa ranked fourth behind list-topping Ireland.

Nomkhita Nqweni, Managing Executive at Absa Wealth, said: “The concept of philanthropy is universal, however a strong sense of Ubuntu, and the inequality between rich and poor in South Africa, are the driving forces locally.”

Wealthy South Africans feel compelled to do something to help bridge the divide in society through philanthropy, added Nqweni.

The report, which surveyed 2 000 high net worth individuals from 20 countries around the world, measured the resources being invested into charities and causes by the wealthy across the world, using both money and time as gauges for the first time.

Furthermore, the report looks at some of the drivers behind giving behaviours, identifying unique cultural factors that shape a country’s philanthropic style and what motivates individuals to give to charity.

“This report provides a strong sense of how the global community is really engaging with philanthropy – above and beyond simply donating money. It is especially interesting to see the diversity of involvement in charities across global regions,” noted Nqweni.

The 'Benefactors' and the 'Volunteers'

The survey identifies two distinct groups of givers: the ‘Benefactors’ who are the most generous with their financial spending; and the ‘Volunteers’ who are more inclined to devote their time to charity.

Top five ‘Benefactor’ donors

(% of respondents who say philanthropy is one of their top three spending priorities)

USA 41%
South Africa 37%
Saudi Arabia 32%
Ireland 30%
Taiwan 28%

Top five ‘Volunteer’ donors

(% of respondents who currently spend five hours a week or more on charity) Ireland 20%

India 20%
USA 17%
South Africa 13%
Qatar 11%

Money and Time

By plotting these results together the report reveals that the United States, Ireland, South Africa and India lead the way as countries that donate significant amounts of both money and time to charitable causes.

The emergence of these donors further supports the findings of Barclays Wealth’s 2009 Tomorrow’s Philanthropist report, which introduced a new breed of wealthy philanthropist; the ‘Go-Giver’. Socially aware, and motivated to give back to the communities they come from, ‘Go-Givers’ seek to support charities not only with financial aid, but also using their time and expertise to benefit causes.

Cultural Philanthropy

Of the four countries that ranked consistently in the top five of both indicators, the report investigates the cultural nuances that drive these countries to engage in philanthropy in this way. The report identifies factors including:

  • Bridging divides in society in South Africa – A national philosophy known as ‘Ubuntu’ drives altruism and a desire to support charitable causes
  • A strong sense of community in Ireland – Personal connections to communities and causes are driving contributions to charity
  • The desire to combat omnipresent poverty in India – High net worth individuals have a strong sense that they must do as much as they can personally to combat society’s problems
  • A sense of personal responsibility to help others in the US – An optimism about the creativity and innovation of individuals to solve problems and make changes in society

It is clear from the research that engagement in philanthropy is universal. This latest report however provides unique insight into the ways in which this commitment manifests itself across the globe, and the cultural nuances that drive this behaviour in these populations.

“By learning more about the ways in which people give, we can further develop our understanding of the global philanthropic landscape and the unique motivations that are driving the wealthy community to engage in charitable giving,” concluded Nqweni.

- Ends -

Notes to the Editor:

South Africa: Philosophy of Ubuntu

Community plays an important role in philanthropy among the wealthy in South Africa. According to Colleen du Toit of the Charities Aid Foundation South Africa, this takes the form of a “deep-seated and very heart-felt philosophy” called Ubuntu. Ubuntu broadly means to care about one’s fellow human beings and is based on generosity and altruism. Whilst always a part of South African culture, Ubuntu has been rejuvenated since the end of Apartheid, particularly among newly wealthy black business people.

“Ubuntu is a traditional philosophy but it’s been rejuvenated... particularly since the end of Apartheid, when all kinds of legislation was passed to fast-track black participation in the economy. When that happened, things like Ubuntu were promoted by business people and intellectuals and as one of the tenets of business.”

Inequality between rich and poor in South Africa is the second driving force behind philanthropy. As is the case in India, the wealthy in South Africa feel compelled to do something to help bridge the divide in society through philanthropy.

“This is a very, very unequal society. We have massive wealth and we have even more massive poverty so I think the drivers of these things are very complex. They go from plain guilt to wanting to uplift the economy, and knowing that the only way to get people working, participating and out of poverty, is to care for your fellow human being.”

(Source: Global Giving: The Culture of Philanthropy)

About Absa Wealth

Absa Wealth, a division of Absa Bank Ltd and an affiliate of Barclays Wealth, serves ultra high net worth and family office clients in South Africa providing holistic international wealth solutions using best of breed products, wealth management, investment management, risk management and structured lending. With the backing of Absa Capital, Absa Group and Barclays Wealth, Absa Wealth offers clients a sophisticated, integrated wealth management proposition, centered on the individual, leveraging the depth and breadth of its global and local expertise.

About Barclays Wealth

Barclays Wealth is a leading global wealth manager, and the UK’s largest, with total client assets of £153.5bn, as at 30 June 2010. With offices in over 20 countries, Barclays Wealth focuses on private and intermediary clients worldwide, providing international and private banking, investment management, fiduciary services and brokerage.

Barclays is a major global financial services provider engaged in retail banking, credit cards, corporate banking, investment banking, wealth management and investment management services, with an extensive international presence in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia. With over 300 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 50 countries and employs approximately 147,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for over 48 million customers and clients worldwide. For further information about Barclays Wealth, please visit our website

About this report

Researched by Ledbury Research and written in conjunction with Barclays Wealth, this white paper looks at global attitudes and behaviours of the wealthy towards philanthropy. It is based on two strands of research. Firstly, Ledbury Research conducted a survey of more than 2,000 high net worth individuals, all of whom had over £1m (or equivalent) in investable assets and 200 with more than £10m. Respondents were drawn from 20 countries around the world, across Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific; these interviews took place during the first half of 2010. The second strand involved in-depth interviews with leading philanthropic experts in selected countries. Our thanks are due to all interviewees for their time and insight.

For further information contact:

Graeme Coetzee
Absa Capital
Marketing and Corporate Communications
+27 11 895 6695
+27 79 695 9798

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