On most occasions, our well-meant donations for those in need are temporary; it does not cater for tomorrow, or the days after. There is always an identifiable need, which is usually followed by an action to satiate the need.

The donor, more often than not, walks away from the situation after giving assistance and this sees the situation either return to normal or become worse. Big corporates are often guilty of this. They charge in, swords drawn to assist the damsels in distress. But even if the charitable act that is packed with great punch lacks a solid follow-up, it could do more harm than good.

In their books titled When Helping Hurts and Toxic Charity, American authors Steve Corbett and Robert Lupton put it best when they argue that charitable acts should not be measured by good intentions, but rather by restored lives.

Good intentions are what would drive a corporate company to donate livestock to a village battling severe poverty. But is there a solid plan in place to ensure there are adequate grazing lands for the animals?

Does the village have a reliable water source for both humans and animals? What about vaccinations and feed for the livestock in the dry months when the grass does not grow?

Sustainability is vital

The Tiger Brands Foundation was a call by thousands of learners from needy communities from across South Africa, which initially called the foundation to start the in-school breakfast programme.

Working hand-in-hand with the department of basic education (DBE), a pilot school was identified and its learners were provided daily hot breakfasts in their classroom — meal that complemented the lunch they received through the DBE's School nutrition programme. Now, the in-school programme secures for more than 70 000 learners from 95 schools a morning meal.

But it is not just the learners' bellies that benefit from this programme. It has since grown to include a general improvement in the lives of community members as well. The breakfast, which is made on-site daily, is prepared and served by volunteer food handlers from within the community.

These women benefit from the programme through training provided by companies employed by the foundation, which covers correct food preparation, kitchen care and safety, hygiene and the importance of proper nutrition.

This SETA-accredited training, which includes a certificate on completion, goes further to cover lessons on how to look for employment, tips on CV compilation and advice on how to conduct themselves during interviews. Another module touches on entrepreneurship if they wish to start their own businesses one day.

Other communities have gone a step further by starting food gardens. In 2017, the food handlers from Vulindlela Primary and Mathyantya Primary in Lady Frere volunteered to start a food garden. 

Working closely with the Eastern Cape Regional Co-ordinator Babalwa Gcali, the women were able to secure a pocket of usable land, kindly donated by neighbouring Mtirara Secondary School.

Following their first successful harvest, the women were able to sell their produce for a profit which allowed them to move the garden to a more sustainable area close to their homes. The local schools benefit from the vegetables grown in the garden. The garden feeds the community at large as well.

The group of five are now in the process of registering an Agricultural Co-operative, looking to add more volunteers to the project. Other successful food gardens are situated at Groenberg Primary School in Gouda in the Western Cape and Dukuza Primary School in KwaZulu-Natal.

The 2016 Statistics South Africa General Household Survey reports that a whopping 7.4 million South Africans experience hunger daily, with more than 1.7 million households having either an adult or a child who had gone hungry in the past year.

The government does provide aid, such as the child support and old age grants, but it is mostly non-government organisations which come to the aid of underprivileged communities in South Africa.

It's these organisations that often provide health, social and advocacy services. According to the Southern African NGO Network online Pulse, South Africa has well over 100 000 registered and operating NGOs.

Surely the key to success in reducing the many social ills that currently plague these communities lies not just in the donations received but in a solid, clear blueprint to ensure sustainability and continuity — even long after an organisation has moved on to the next community in need. This is clearly the only way to evoke lasting impact on the lives we touch.

For more information, visit www.thetigerbrandsfoundation.com. You can also follow the Tiger Brands Foundation on Facebook or on Twitter.