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This article is taken from the September 2003 Phatlalatsa newsletter

 

S&T surveying individual giving for Centre for Civil Society

S&T surveying individual giving for Centre for Civil Society imageS&T was invited to submit a tender for a large, complex applied research project by the Centre for Civil Society (CCS), run by Professor Adam Habib at the University of Natal. We were extremely pleased to win the job, and David Everatt has joined the project team, which includes Deborah Ewing, Steven Friedman, Mandla Seloane, Mark Swilling, Brij Maharaj, and Annsilla Nyar, as the project manager. The focus of the project is on resources that are available and those that can be mobilised in future around poverty and development.

The overall project is enormous, with components looking at:

  • Corporate social investment
  • Overseas development assistance
  • State spending
  • Religious groups, trusts and other organised formations, and
  • Individual-level giving.

S&T is responsible for qualitative and quantitative research focusing on the behaviour of individuals. This began with a national set of focus groups, among people of all races and classes, to get them talking about the poor, who they are, how to help them, what causes people support - and which they do not - and why this is the case.

The focus groups, conducted during May and June 2003, provided some fascinating insights - and complexities. For some people, giving includes helping relatives and extended family members, which for others is a responsibility or duty, not a voluntary activity. Some participants never give to certain groups - such as street children or beggars - while others consistently do so. One respondent, pressed about why he gives to the poor, answered: "Because we're all going to die, and I'll have to answer to God for my life!" This pointed to a deeper methodological challenge, namely the fact that many people want to give more than they do and it is vital not to push them into a defensive posture.

The focus groups were vital in providing insights into the way in which people think about giving; how they talk about it; and thus how to design survey questions that will help us better understand the issue. The results fed into a lengthy and complex survey design process, which is currently being piloted. Once the results of the pilot phase have been studied, the survey will go into field, using a representative national sample of 3 600 respondents. The data should be available in late 2003 or early 2004.
The aim of the survey is twofold: (a) to generate defensible quantitative data about the level and type of resources mobilised by South African citizens for poverty and development, and (b) a detailed analysis of the factors that facilitate and/or restrict giving.

The data will allow us to develop South African models of giving that are located in our different community and other formations, and which will be more useful guides to giving behaviour in this country than the vast American and European
literature.

 

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