Cause they can: Generous Saffers give big


Cause they can: Generous Saffers give big

Empathetic donors gave R35m through crowdfunding platform BackaBuddy in 2018

Senior reporter

A Cape Town three-year-old who cannot eat food without becoming seriously ill, a Johannesburg paediatrician who had battled cancer and a foundation that supports child burn victims won the hearts of donors on SA’s biggest crowdfunding platform last year.
According to BackaBuddy’s annual statistics – released to Times Select last week – the crowdfunding site raised R35m in 2018.
The “Save Aaron” campaign raised the highest amount, R1.5m, for Aaron Lipschitz, who has never shared a meal with his parents, had a slice of his own birthday cake or savoured the taste of a sweet.
Aaron cannot eat without becoming seriously ill and every day at 7pm he is hooked up via a port through his heart to receive 12-hour intravenous feeding.
Aaron is the first South African to be diagnosed with Interleukin-12 Receptor Defect, a rare, incurable disease that affects his immune system.
His parents need the money for a bone marrow transplant.
The Avela Foundation raised more than R1m to provide healthcare and emotional support to children who have suffered burn injuries.
“Some of these children have disfiguring scars and we know that with the right support they will be able to achieve the impossible and become mentors to other burn survivors,” the foundation said on its campaign page.
Johannesburg paediatrician and mother of two Kerryn Neilson raised close to a R1m to help pay for a new chemotherapy drug before she succumbed to blood cancer in March.
She was only able to have one round of the drug before she contracted an infection.
The number of causes that registered on the crowdfunding platform increased from 862 in 2017 to 1,836 last year.
“Where Facebook was seven years ago, donations crowdfunding in South Africa is today; it’s just breaking through into the general consciousness. South Africans are recognised as incredibly generous and when given a simple way of coming together to support others, this shines through,” said BackaBuddy chief executive Patrick Schofield.
Many people relate and empathise with those in critical need at a particular point in their lives.
“BackaBuddy and donations crowdfunding provide a channel which gives people the opportunity to be actively part of a solution, to make a positive difference in their world, to be part of society that they create through their actions of giving and supporting others,” he said.
Showcase of kindness
A new house for Olivia was the campaign that stood out for BackaBuddy chief operations officer Catherine du Plooy.
Olivia Mokete was beaten in the street by an unknown man during protests in Johannesburg, despite having nothing to do with the protests.
Her home was a tin shack. South Africans raised more than R11,000 for a wooden wendy house for her.
“The kindness Olivia experienced after her ordeal showcases our ability as South Africans to positively impact those around us. It also demonstrated the power of crowdfunding and how a small gesture can turn a negative experience around and restore our faith in humanity,” Du Plooy said.
BackaBuddy public relations officer Zane Groenewald’s favourite cause last year was the #rise18 project, in which Zanele Hlatshwayo completed 18 marathons in honour of her father who had committed suicide.
“Zanele’s tenacity and determination inspired me ... She showcased the ability of crowdfunding to create a movement. By sharing her very personal struggle she gave courage to so many South Africans battling anxiety and depression, and started a dialogue around a taboo topic that is often not spoken about openly.
“Watching as she exceeded her initial target of R180,000 and crowdfunding R203,186.04 to support The South African Depression and Anxiety Group in maintaining their suicide hotline, has been profoundly mobilising.”

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