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Ten easy ways businesses can make a difference this Mandela Day

What to donate this Mandela Day.

Mandela Day is dedicated to the late Nelson Mandela, and all South Africans are encouraged to spend at least 67 minutes on the day doing something good for someone else.

Traditionally, companies have observed the day by visiting orphanages, restoring and painting old, dilapidated schools and classrooms, or providing meals for the homeless, among other great contributions. And as beneficial as these activities have been, it is time businesses consider what they can do to make a more long-term and sustainable impact on communities in need.

Muziwethu Zwane, CEO of Alexandra-based non-profit organisation Rays of Hope, said that businesses looking to get involved and help bring lasting change to those in need in South Africa this Mandela Day should expand their thinking.

“Painting houses and handing out sandwiches is helpful and welcomed by struggling communities like Alex. However, we need to start thinking about tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, when the paint has worn and stomachs are once again empty,” he said.

“Corporate South Africa has the influence and ability to make a much bigger impact using the same CSI spend, just in a more strategic way.”

Below are 10 easy but impactful activities that will last longer than 67 minutes:

• Planting seeds for the future: planting fruit trees in the community is literally a gift that keeps on giving, in this case providing families with a nutritious snack (instead of junk food).

• Give the gift of dignity: toiletries are unfortunately considered a luxury that many young girls and boys can barely afford. Consider making regular donations of ‘dignity packs’ comprised of deodorants, sanitary pads, toothpaste and soap to vulnerable communities.

• Donate towards multi-generational learning: for the companies that are able to, sponsor or help to build and equip computer labs and libraries at schools or as standalone facilities within under-resourced communities is an investment in lifelong learning for the youth.

• Give kids the tools they need to learn: this can take the form of stationery packs for school children or even a technology solution to support digital learning in the classroom.

• Introduce a recycling programme: with a climate change crisis looming, teaching communities and the youth about the importance of recycling is a much-needed contribution.

• Adopt a vulnerable family: while once-off donations are certainly helpful, a monthly financial commitment to support a family’s household needs will go a lot further.

• Donate old laptops and devices: as long as they are in working condition, donations of old computers, tablets and other useful devices are welcomed by schools, libraries, and community-based educational programmes, such as the Saturday School facilitated by Rays of Hope, where learners and educators alike can make use of them.

• Commit to taking part in charitable events throughout the year: many organisations host events outside of Mandela Day that help fund their initiatives. Why not offer to commit to taking part in one or two or help sponsor a team? The Rays of Hope 947 cycling team is a good example, which takes part in the race each year. Companies can get involved by participating in the race or simply sponsoring their team’s kit.

• Sponsor a social worker: social services are crucial in disadvantaged communities, ensuring every member of the community has access to support. Sponsoring a social worker means more resources can be dedicated to addressing societal ills such as gender-based violence, crime and poverty.

• Become a long-term partner: pledging your support as a business to NPOs and the vulnerable communities they serve can involve financial contributions, or simply just volunteering on a regular basis and giving off your time and resources.

There are many out-of-the-box ways to make a difference and bring lasting change to communities in need this Mandela Day. All the above ideas and activities are on offer through Rays of Hope.

Contact Charmaine on charmaine@raysofhope.co.za to sign up your team and find out more.

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