Inyathelo in the Headlines

Philanthropists gather to honour those who make a difference - 8 Nov 2011 - My Cape Town

Representatives of South African private philanthropic foundations will meet in Cape Town on Tuesday 15 November to attend the prestigious annual Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards and explore donor practice in the context of the  global funding crisis threatening civil society.

The Awards, initiated by Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement five years ago, aim to acknowledge, celebrate and encourage social giving and philanthropy in South Africa. Previous awardees include the likes of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Linda Clement Twala (who started Phuthaditjaba, a Community Centre in Alexandra township), best-selling author Richard Mason (who set up the Kay Mason Foundation in memory of his sister), Mark Solms and Richard Astor (who transformed the lives of the farm workers on the Solms Delta wine estate) and Refiloe Seseane (a former soap opera star who started the non profit organisation 18twenty8 aimed at empowering young women).

Inyathelo Executive Director Shelagh Gastrow says the awards are the centre-piece of a two-day symposium convened by Inyathelo for the Private Philanthropy Circle. “The circle was established to enable local foundations and philanthropists to share skills, information and experience. The symposium will be addressed by acclaimed academic, businesswoman and medical doctor, Mamphela Ramphele and will explore how local philanthropy can partner with government and business to enhance social development projects. The plummeting global economy, coupled with dwindling international funding, has hit local non-profits hard so we need to look at other ways of support our civil society,” explains Gastrow.

Inyathelo Communications and Philanthropy Manager Adrienne Coetzee says they hope that by honouring those individuals whose financial contributions have made a sustainable difference to poor and vulnerable communities, the awards will inspire and encourage others to make a difference too. “Our annual awards are not just for the rich and famous. You don’t have to be a Bill Gates, a Warren Buffett or an Oprah Winfrey to make an impact on your community. We want to honour anyone who makes a personal and financial commitment to fight the ravages of poverty and unemployment, and ensure that our rich and diverse civil society continues to thrive and provide a much needed safety net for millions of South Africans,” says Coetzee.

Nominations for the Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards are made for a particular category such as Youth in Philanthropy, Community Philanthropy, Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy as well as Philanthropy in Health and the Arts. A short list of nominees – selected by a panel of judges – has been invited to a gala event at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town on Tuesday, 15th of November 2011 where the awards will be presented.

Refiloe Seseane, recipient of last year’s ‘Inyathelo Award for Youth in Philanthropy’, says she is currently completing her masters in Economics but is more interested in living a life of significance than success. “Success is just something that you do for yourself but a person of significance touches the lives of others. That is why I got into the field of philanthropy. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the problems and challenges we face, but I still believe one person can make a difference, and when you do, others will join in,” insists Seseane.