Nominations have opened for the seventh annual Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards, dubbed the "Oscars" (or "Inyathelos") of the South African philanthropy world. This prestigious annual event, to be held in the Cape Town City Hall later this year, was established by lnyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement to acknowledge, celebrate and honour those whose personal giving has contributed towards sustainable social change in our country.
Previous awardees include the Ackerman and Lubner families; Traditionalist, environmentalist and community worker Grace Masuku; 12-year Jordan van der Walt whose 'Just One Bag' campaign has fed over a million hungry school children; Refiloe Seseane, a former soap opera star who started the organisation 1 8twenty8 to empower young women; Alice Wamundiya, a former car guard from Rwanda who established an organisation to provide tertiary education for refugees; and Dr Peter Farrant for his lifetime contribution to secondary education and the prevention and treatment of HIV.
Inyathelo Executive Director Shelagh Gastrow says the Awards panel is looking for extraordinary people who are actively investing their own resources in small or big ways to improve their communities and South Africa - be it through the arts, education, health, environment, research or other causes.
"Philanthropy is dependent on the interest, passion, commitment, generosity and foresight of individuals wanting to make a difference, and our Awards seek to inspire others by recognising the incredible role models amongst us. Individual giving can be the largest source of donor money in South Africa and philanthropists play a critical role in effecting real systemic change through supporting innovative solutions to our many social, environmental and economic problems. explains Gastrow.
Thutloa says the awardees are chosen according to specific criteria by a panel of highly respected independent reviewers. "We are looking for philanthropy champions who have demonstrated initiative and leadership, and who have used their personal funds in a strategic way to make a difference. We believe it is critical that we as South Africans begin to support our own civil society organisations as they form the backbone of our democracy and provide a space for citizen action in their own communities. Already, too many of our non-profits have been forced to scale down their work or close their doors. The impact of these funding shortfalls is having dire consequences, particularly in the areas of education, welfare, healthcare and social justice. We believe local philanthropists can help bridge the funding gap left by the departure of international donors," says Thutloa