This time in global history is so difficult and such a uniquely unifying moment that the urge to donate is only natural. My email inbox and social media have been flooded with donation requests. This overwhelming need led to a conflict between my desire to help and my own limited resources, a conflict that almost paralysed me into inaction. Through careful budgeting and making use of my loyalty cards, however, I have now found a happy balance between meeting personal needs and contributing towards our nation’s needs and can now donate to the Solidarity Fund.
1. Donate Your Loyalty Card Points to the Solidarity Fund
Few things are as good as the money that grows on loyalty cards. Happily, the Solidarity Fund is just as enthusiastic about reward points as we consumers are!
Reward points, like other forms of discounts, encourage buying. That’s why I now seldom use reward points and vouchers for anything that isn’t in my budget. I don’t shop at the Body Shop so when I received a voucher from my Clicks card I used it to buy my mom a mother’s day present. It’s superfluous, after all. With the pandemic in our country, I’ve decided to donate all rewards points I can to the Solidarity Fund. I really encourage you to do the same.
Old Mutual Rewards
If you use any of Old Mutual’s many products, you can sign up for the reward programme and give money to the Solidarity Fund. The points from my R113 donation were earned through the free 22/7 budgeting app.
FNB has never been one to be left behind so it’s no surprise that it’s enabled customers to contribute to the Solidarity Fund. You can donate on the eBucks online shop.
Discovery Vitality Rewards
You can use any Discovery Miles to make a contribution to the Solidarity Fund. It’s quick and easy with the app.
ABSA Cash Rewards
Those who bank with ABSA also have the choice to convert their cashback benefits into a donation towards the Solidarity Fund. There’s a minimum donation of R1.
Dis-Chem was quick off the mark to donate R2 million to the Solidarity Fund and enable its loyal customers to do likewise.
Dis-Chem Benefit members can convert their rewards points into donations towards the Solidarity Fund. This can be done online or via the store app. The company will also match members’ donations.
Using Your Loyalty Card Points to Donate to NPOs in general
Although many loyalty cards haven’t partnered with the Solidarity Fund, most of them do have NPO (or “charity”) partners. This is still a lovely way of supporting the country’s most vulnerable during this time.
For instance, Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers can convert points into a donation to the SPCA. The SPCA is one of the organisations that popped into my inbox, sharing how staff members have given up the comforts of home to take care of the animals and how lockdown has meant an increase in abandoned animals. I’ve now donated my measly R13 to the SPCA via Smart Shopper.
My School cardholders can also switch their beneficiaries to organisations in the health sector, such as Doctors Without Borders and the Children’s Hospital Trust (to which I’m currently donating).
2. Cut Corners in Your Personal Budget
“I have to ask you to make even greater sacrifices so that our country may survive this crisis and so that tens of thousands of lives may be saved,” the president said in his announcement of the extension of lockdown. The key word is “sacrifice” and it applies here, too. It’s all very well to donate unneeded points but if we can, we should be taking one for the team, so to speak, and donate from our own money.
I haven’t donated cash to the Solidarity Fund but I’ve contributed towards The Big Issue’s vendor support fund and towards Avaaz.org’s campaign on behalf of a Maasai-run conservation area suffering from the lack of tourism. I’ve done it by taking it out of my food budget (I can live a few weeks without biltong or pulp juice).
The trick for me is not to think, “Oh, now I have R50 less to spend on biltong” but instead to forget I ever had that money. Instead of having R500, I’m starting with R400. It’s a mindset that’s not for everyone but if you’re sincere and realise that some costs can’t be measured in money, I think it works.
In any case, with the lockdown, there are expenses that aren’t valid so why not redirect money for eating out towards the Solidarity Fund?
3. Donate Interest Accrued to the Solidarity Fund
The greatest dividends in life are those that we give away.Craig D. Lounsbrough
If you’re like me, you save such small amounts that the interest or dividends you receive is hardly noticeable until, perhaps, the end of the year. I keep my savings in different accounts so I really do earn interest of R1-something-cents. Some of these dividends are paid directly into my transactional account every month. This is another way of donating without really even denting your net worth.
Even if you’ve never invested directly on the JSE, you may as well give it a try on 15 and 16 April. Over these two days, the JSE will donate all fees earned from trades to the Solidarity Fund. If you’re an existing investor, try to save those trades for these dates.
5. Work Towards the Mission of the Solidarity Fund
If you still can’t find the money to donate to the fund, then align yourself with its purpose and take action accordingly.
The fund’s main mission is to purchase masks and other personal protective equipment for our country’s hospitals. We’ve already been told not to panic-buy masks (It’s been months since I saw masks for sale so I’m not even sure this is still an option?) but there is also the option of making your own masks. I’ll be onto this soon.
Then there is the word “solidarity”. We’re already in lockdown but it’s easy to start taking shopping trips for “essentials” thrice a week. If you’re unwell, take it seriously and don’t expose fellow citizens so unnecessarily. This really is the metaphor of the “weak link in the chain.” Don’t be it. Just don’t.
Go On. Support the Solidarity Fund
Not all of us can take a 33% pay-cut and donate it to the Solidarity Fund but we can take steps to work towards its aims. It doesn’t matter how little you give because there are 54 million of us and some of us, just like you, will give a little, too. Whichever way you choose to back the Solidarity Fund, I’m sure that Cyril (as well as the rest of us, of course) is very grateful that you fulfilled your “Thuma Mina” moment.