On August 3, 1960, the Pietermaritzburg and District Community Chest opened its doors with R3 556 in donated funds and 14 beneficiaries.
In the last financial year, despite the challenges produced by the economic downturn, it raised a record R2,1 million for 53 beneficiaries, bringing relief and hope to thousands of people in distress.
Over its 50-year lifespan, the Community Chest has collected over R31 million in donor funding and has distributed this to welfare organisations serving communities in and around Pietermaritzburg.
That’s something worth celebrating.
During the course of 2010, which marks the 50th anniversary year of the Community Chest, the organisation will be looking back over the past 50 years, as well as looking forward to the next 50. A range of special activities is planned, culminating in a civic reception in August and a commemorative insert in the local press.
“We couldn’t have done it without our generous donors,” said Community Chest Executive Director Aroo Naidoo of the Community Chest’s achievements of the past 50 years. “I hope that the people of Pietermaritzburg, many of whom have shown incredible generosity towards those in need, will join us in acknowledging this significant milestone.”
In recognition of the 50th anniversary, Naidoo said the Chest is hoping to increase its impact this year and make an additional allocation (comprising one-twelfth of the normal allocated grant) to each of its 55 beneficiaries in the 2010/11 financial year. He said the Chest had already made an appeal to this effect to donors. In total the Chest will distribute R3,327million.
Naidoo, who was appointed executive director in 2004, said the organisation has undergone significant changes in its 50-year history and has laid to rest perceptions of that the organisation was oriented towards “white” beneficiaries.
He said there has also been a shift in its emphasis in the organisation’s modus operandi, away from the simple allocation of funds towards a more “hands-on” approach to poverty alleviation, upliftment and development.
“We have increased our direct contact with community members, becoming involved with partners in the distribution of donations-in-kind and in other projects such as the restoration of power in deprived areas such as KwaPata,” he said.
“We now see ourselves as part of a value-chain, working with our partners to alleviate poverty and improve lives,” he added.
The chest is also committed to helping develop the administrative and governance skills of its beneficiary organisations.
Community Chest chairman Dem Kambouris said it was gratifying to be part of what he considered to be an “exemplary organisation” which had consistently shown commitment to the principles of good governance, accountability, integrity and transparency.
What is the Community Chest?
The Community Chest is a non-profit organisation which raises funds and other resources and distributes them to deserving welfare organisations.
The Community Chest was conceived at a meeting of public-minded citizens called by the Junior Chamber of Commerce in November 1958, although it was only officially established on August 3, 1960. The first council was elected on June 22, 1961 under the chairmanship of Dr B A A Armitage. The first director, Mrs D Botha, was appointed in 1964.
Today, annual grants from the Community Chest support mainly the operational running costs of the beneficiary organisations, without which many organisations could not exist, let alone deliver.
A core function of the Chest remains helping corporate donors to execute their social responsibility programmes in an efficient and transparent manner. However, the Chest also aims to foster a spirit of philanthropy more generally by providing opportunities for both personal and group giving. I
n the 2008/09 financial year corporate donors still made up the largest proportion of givers at 23.97%, followed closely by the Workplace Giving Programme at 20.33% and trusts at 20.06%. Other donations came from private individuals, the Msunduzi Municipality’s grant in aid, donor-advised giving and special projects.
The Pietermaritzburg and District Community Chest is one of six organisations affiliated to the national Community Chest South Africa, which, in turn, is affiliated to United Way International, a global organisation with members from Brazil to China.
For more information, contact Aroo Naidoo at 033 394 1031 or visit www. communitychest.org.za