Every Mandela Day, people across South Africa come together to help change the world for the better. This year, their efforts will be needed more than ever, as millions of people have been left vulnerable by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. But how do you contribute in a time of social distancing?
For a start, says Keri-Leigh Paschal, executive trustee of Nation Builder, look for South Africa’s non-profit organisations (NPOs), who provide critical services to our most vulnerable communities in areas like health, education, and poverty alleviation. The pandemic has taken a massive toll on many NPOs, who have had to deal with the ‘double-whammy’ of seeing their funding reduced at a time when they are facing unprecedented demand for their services.
“NPOs deal directly with our marginalised communities, vulnerable women, children, the elderly, the infirm and the homeless. They need every bit of help they can get right now. There is always volunteer work to be done in person, however virtual volunteering has become an impactful way to contribute your time and skills – increasing NPO capacity in this time of capacity stretching,” says Paschal.
Some of the ways we can volunteer and make a difference on Mandela Day:
Reach out to local NPOs
Across South Africa, there are numerous NPOs and groups running local feeding schemes and community support projects. “Reach out to organisations in your area to see what their needs are, there should be opportunities to volunteer virtually, or to make things from home that they need, or drive goods around from collection points to the centralised distribution area,” says Paschal.
Go shopping with a difference
Ask your local NPO or feeding scheme what their major grocery needs are, and go shopping for them. “Most NPOs can never have enough foodstuffs and other basic items,” says Paschal. If you’re doing your shopping online, simply make sure the delivery address is that of the collection point for the NPO concerned.
Do some virtual volunteering
In a time of social distancing, virtual volunteering has become more popular than ever. An easy way to explore this option is on platforms like Forgood.co.za, which matches causes with people by location, activities or by your specific interests and skills.
If you don’t have time, but want to contribute, or want to run a virtual fundraising challenge (like the push-up challenge) you can donate, or mobilise, funds toward the Gap Fund, an emergency fund set up by the Mergon Group to support NPOs who have lost significant funding, or need additional funding, during this time of increased need. Mergon ensures that 100% of contributions find their way to NPOs at the coalface.
You can donate to the Gap Fund through the Nation Builder Trust account, or its Back a Buddy campaign:
Nation Builder Trust
First National Bank
Cheque Account number: 62820343557
Branch code: 204-109
“Mandela Day has always been a time for South Africans to mobilise as citizens. Right now, our NPOs, and the vulnerable people they support, need every bit of support they can get. Even the smallest contributions or acts of volunteerism can make a real difference to someone’s life this Mandela Day,” said Paschal.