BackaBuddy raises R200 Million for charitable causes, salutes 250 000 donors

Image: Nkosikho Mbele. Credit: Anthony Molyneaux/TimesLIVE
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Image: Nkosikho Mbele. Credit: Anthony Molyneaux/TimesLIVE

With over R200 000 million raised for charitable causes in South Africa, donations-based crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy, celebrates the 250 000 donors who have uplifted those in need.

Re-launched in 2015, BackaBuddy has welcomed over 16 600 individual online fundraising campaigns for medical expenses, tuition fees, sporting tours, community projects and good deeds across the country.

Over 3 200 charities are also active users of the platform, raising funds for various needs within their organisation through their own projects, and have collectively invited over 21 400 individuals to pledge their birthdays or participate in events to raise funds on their behalf.

“As a platform, BackaBuddy allows us to come together as communities to support people and causes that we believe in, regardless of our differences. For every cause, accident or catastrophe that we face, we bear witness to the many who step up when asked to by their peers. This is the immense power that crowdfunding facilitates and which goes far beyond just the funds that are raised” says BackaBuddy, CEO, Patrick Schofield.

Take a look back at some of BackaBuddy’s memorable crowdfunding campaigns.

Inspiring individuals

The good samaritan

When Monet van Deventer stopped at the Shell Ultra City in Somerset West and realized she forgot her bank card at home, good samaritan, Nkosikho Mbele, who works as a petrol attendant, offered to fill her tank with R100 to ensure she got home safely.

To show her appreciation for Nkosi’s kind deed, Monet set up a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy with a fundraising target of R100 000. With tremendous support from the public, over R500 000 was raised in a few short days with contributions from over 2 500 donors from around the world. 

Catching up with Nkosi, we are happy to report, he’s doing great and has begun working on extending his mother’s house with the funds he received. Nkosi says he is still recognized from time to time and is still enjoying his job as a petrol attendant!

First class ‘roosterbrood’

Eight years ago, ‘Tannie’ Poppie Van As (64), who runs a small roadside ‘roosterbrood’ stand on the N1 in Laingsburg in the Western Cape, met sports events organizer, Stan Engelbrecht (43). 

Impressed with her talents and her infectious personality, Poppie was introduced to the Italian owners of Eroica and was invited to Gaiole, Italy to make her now famous ‘roosterbrood’ for their main cycling event in 2019.

Poppie moments before her flight to Italy. Image credit: 13TH MONTH FILMS

With the cost of her flight covered, Stan launched a campaign on BackaBuddy to cover Poppie’s accommodation and spending money for the once in a lifetime trip.

With donations from almost 200 donors, over R100 000 was raised and Poppie was ready to go! Spotted at the airport, Tannie Poppie was even upgraded to business class for her first-ever trip overseas and shared her experience on her Instagram page. Read more.

One of the highlights from Poppie’s trip, was braaiing at chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen’s restaurant, JAN in Nice, Italy.

Here was this vivacious woman in her 60s, bursting with joie de vivre, who was making her living selling roosterkoek from a padstal along the N1 motorway outside Laingsburg. Then, after a whole life in the Great Karoo, she was suddenly on her way to Italy to make this essentially South African, fire-baked bread for a group of cyclists on tour. I was hooked. Her rural-small-town story reminded me more than a little bit of my own. And she was going to be just around the corner! I just couldn’t resist inviting her to JAN to give my team of fancy schmancy chefs an education in how to bake ‘real’ roosterkoek. This is her story, as told by the team who helped her to make this dream a reality…” – Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen wrote on his blog.

At JAN restaurant in Nice: The young chefs, their uniforms white and starched, looked on, gaping as Poppie threw together her recipe without a measuring cup in sight. Image credit: 13TH MONTH FILMS

Saving Aaron

Aaron Lipschitz (5) from Sea Point, Cape Town, is the first child in South Africa to be diagnosed with Interleukin-12 Receptor Defect, a rare genetic condition that affects the immune system.

As there is currently no cure for Aaron’s condition, the only way for Aaron to overcome his recurrent infections and survive this condition, was to have a bone marrow transplant in August 2018. Read more.

Over the course of two years, the BackaBuddy campaign raised over R1 000 000 to support Aaron’s ongoing medical costs with contributions from almost 1000 donors both locally and abroad.


When star chess player, Amahle Zenzile (13) from Cape Town was unable to attend the SAJCC Closed in Johannesburg, due to lack of funds, her best friend and fellow competitor, Trinity Van Beeck (13), along with her mum Marisa Laas and coach Thando Hlakula stepped in and launched a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy

Amahle Zenzile with campaign creators Marisa Laas and Trinity Van Beeck

With well-wishes and support from the public, Amahle went on to finish 5th in her age group and was awarded her South African colours.

Campaigning a second time, Amahle was able to represent South Africa in Namibia the African Youth Chess Tournament where she placed 4th in her division.

In total, almost R60 000 has been raised for Amahle’s tournaments as her star continues to rise in the chess community. Read more.

Cody the brave

10-year-old pony, Cody, made international news in June 2017 when he found his way home, against insurmountable odds, 16 days after the devastating Knysna fires that nearly claimed his life.

To cover the cost of his treatment, as he was badly burnt, emaciated and struggling to see, a campaign was launched on BackaBuddy that raised over R 130 000 from almost 300 animal lovers across the globe.

Courageous Cody has since become the animal ambassador for the The Eden Empathy Initiative, a non-profit organisation focused on skills training, clinical therapy and animal education where he continues to inspire everyone he meets.

From the Township to skies

Xolisa Shenxani (18) from Sir Lowry Pass Village in Cape Town, has had his heart set on becoming a commercial pilot from a young age despite coming from a disadvantaged background.

“I used to look up into the air and see helicopters fly over my house but I didn’t know what they were. I thought, ‘I would love to fly that thing!’, but I wasn’t sure if people could fly in it. I remember, in grade 1 or 2, a helicopter landed on the soccer field in Sir Lowry’s Pass and I got to see inside of it. That’s when I knew that I wanted to become a pilot!” – says Xolisa

Xolisa’s dreams were set in motion in 2019 after almost R200 000 was raised to fund his grade 11 and matric year at private school. Xolisa was taken by surprise when an anonymous donor contributed R 101 500.00 to his BackaBuddy campaign, leaving only a short message of support “Glo jy kan dit doen”

Xolisa’s mentor, Philip Bellstedt was happy to report that Xolisa passed matric with impressive results and achieved the minimum requirements to apply for the airforce in 2021!

Inspiring causes

Cause Climber

In 2018, Andrew Patterson, originally from Johannesburg, climbed Table mountain every day for a year, braving the winter cold, summer heat, the wind, and the rain with his 365 Ubuntuclimbs campaign to support 3 charities close to his heart. 

Andrew Patterson

On New Year’s Eve, Andrew took his last step in a year-long journey that totaled 2429 km including 262 km of vertical climbing (equivalent to 71 Mt Everests).

A total of 738 climbers accompanied Andrew throughout his journey, which took over 964 hours to complete.

Having raised just over R910 000 on BackaBuddy, Andrew supported Habitat for Humanity’s OVC project in Khayelitsha, partnering with Baphumelele Children’s Home, to provide shelter to orphans and abandoned children. 

Funds were also used to provide 7 primary schools with teaching materials to empower children through reading through NPO, One heart for kids, and 60 new donors were added to the Sunflower Fund bone marrow registry.

“With my BackaBuddy campaign I was treated to the spirit of Ubuntu and was surrounded year-round with amazing human beings who shared my focus and passion to help others” – says Andrew.

Beauty with purpose

In the wake of the Knysna Fires in June 2017, Former Miss South Africa, Demi Leigh Nel Peters, with the backing and support of Sun International and Cell C, launched a campaign on BackaBuddy to help rebuild her hometown after fires raged through the Garden Route.

Demi Leigh Nel Peters. Image credit: IMDB

Urging South Africans to support her cause for the Sedgefield Lions Club, over R625 000 was raised, exceeding the initial target of R500 000 to provide supplies for the families that lost their homes and livelihoods in the blaze.

A walk to remember

In September 2019, rape survivor and activist, Leilani Kuter (46) from Roodepoort, Gauteng, began a 27-day journey, covering a distance of 729km, to take a stand against sexual assault and gender-based violence in South Africa.

Wearing yellow, the colour her attacker wore, Leilani broke her silence, and raised over R260 000 on BackaBuddy to support rape crisis centers across South Africa. Read more.

With overwhelming support, Leilani has since launched a non-profit company, #YellowForSurvivors and once again tightened her laces in September 2020 to begin a 448km nostalgic walk to fundraise in honor of survivors.

“Every step of my journey thus far is in defiance of systemic violence against women, men and children and a celebration of our collective survival spirit. Walking has become a big part of my healing process and I’ve learned, as I get older, that you can’t run away from your past. You need to confront it head-on in order to move on.” – says Leilani

Zolani Mahola lends her voice

In 2018, lead singer of Freshlyground, Zolani Mahola, who became a bone marrow donor 3 years ago, lent her support to The South African Bone Marrow Registry’s Give a little, Save A Life’ campaign on BackaBuddy.

Funds raised by the campaign were used to assist four local children in need of a life-saving Stem Cell Transplant. With support from the public, almost R500 000 was raised to support the non-profit.

Zolani Mahola. Image: Zolani’s Facebook page

As there is a shortage of donors of African descent, Zolani encouraged South Africans of all ethnic backgrounds to register with the SABMR to help those in need of life-saving treatment.

“As a nation, we have a rich history of Ubuntu and we must continually find new ways of expressing it. With many of our donors coming from overseas, we need more donors of African descent. With the procedure itself not being the onerous and painful task it used to be, we have so much potential to make a difference at home” – says Zolani

Birthday for the birds

Upon learning that the Umgeni River Bird Park, was under strain due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Romario Valentine (9), an environmental activist, from Umhlanga, Durban, launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the sanctuary’s Inspire to Conserve program in lieu of birthday gifts. 

Romario with his parents, Delsha Moodley and Clive Valentine.

With support from the public, Romario superseded his fundraising target of R15 000, raising over R30 000 to support his feathery friends on BackaBuddy with contributions from almost 100 donors. Read more.

For his hard work in supporting the Umgeni River Bird Park, Romario was allowed to celebrate his birthday at the sanctuary and was awarded a certificate of excellence!

Romario has also become an Ocean Sole ambassador, highlighting the damage caused by pollutants and their effect on marine and sea bird life.

He’s also since appeared on 50/50, and has been featured in National Geographic, SA Art Magazine and appeared in an article on Global Citizen.

Rising above her pain

In 2018, founder of Rise18, Zanele Hlatshwayo from Soweto, participated in 18 marathons, totaling over 648km to support The South African Depression and Anxiety Group.

Funds raised by Zanele’s campaign were used to fund SADAG‘s national suicide toll-free hotline in honor of her late father who took his own life due to depression.

With over R 200 000 raised on BackaBuddy, Zanele’s initiative funded over 10 000 phone calls to the crisis hotline. Read more.

“I found strength in my vulnerability and found a way to deal with my father’s tragedy through those who have shared their pain with me. I believe with Rise18, we have just scratched the surface, there is still so much that needs to be done” – Zanele

A climb to Everest Base Camp

In 2018, fifteen individuals, led by the founder of the Avela Foundation, Cami Palomo, began a 9-day trekking route, ending in triumph at 5,364 meters, at the base of Mount Everest in Lukla, Nepal.

Committed to the climb, over R 2.1 million was raised on BackaBuddy to kick-start Avela’s U-Matter program, an initiative to provide a psychological support network for burn survivors and their families. 

Funds were also used to help refurbish Kimberley Hospital’s burn unit. In total, The Avela Foundation has raised over R 3.7 million on BackaBuddy for various projects.

Among the hikers was William Baartman, who at age of three years old, was a victim of gross Human Rights violation when his home was petrol bombed by local students. He sustained 75% burn wounds and lost his younger sister, Grace in the fire.

William Baartman

 “I was too afraid to leave the house because I was scared of what others might think and now I have climbed to Mount Everest base camp! I hope to send a message to those hiding from the world, that there’s hope for them, hope they think doesn’t exist.”- says William

Rainbows and Smiles

Rainbows and Smiles, an organisation that provides emotional, social, and financial support to families and caregivers affected by cancer have raised over R1.9 million BackaBuddy through participating in various sporting events such as the Midmar Mile, the Comrades, and Two Oceans to name a few.

Founder of Rainbows and Smiles Bonita Suckling and Nadia Lewis at the Edenvale Marathon

The Smile Foundation

The Smile Foundation, a South African NGO that assists children with any type of facial abnormality, to receive free corrective plastic and reconstructive surgery, has raised over R1.7 million on BackaBuddy through a variety of projects.

Support during the COVID-19 pandemic

#ImStaying feeds the vulnerable

The implementation of the national lockdown left many families in South Africa destitute without the means to earn an income and provide for their families.

To assist with food vouchers during this time, vital Facebook sensation and registered non-profit organisation, #ImStaying, raised over R1 million on BackaBuddy with contributions from almost 1800 donors to feed over 24 000 vulnerable South Africans. Read more.

In total #ImStaying has raised over R 1.4 million on BackaBuddy for various projects 

Gift of the Givers Give Back

To raise funds to empower doctors, nurses, and medical staff across South Africa with the supplies and equipment needed for them to carry out the vital work they do, The Gift of the Givers, launched a campaign on BackaBuddy.

The campaign has thus far raised over R 1.4 million with support from almost 250 donors to purchase Manual and automated Ventilation equipment, Intubation equipment, Safety equipment for medical staff as well as medical supplies. Read more.

In total, The Gift of the Givers has raised over R 2.8 million on BackaBuddy for various projects.

With the University of Cambridge estimating the total crowdfunding activity in Africa to reach over R30 billion by 2025, we look forward to watching the crowdfunding industry grow from strength to strength.

“To build South Africa as a nation, we need ties that bind us in positive ways. We need to invest in each other and support each other in ways that cross over traditional boundaries. Crowdfunding brings people together in positive ways, around things that we are passionate about, giving us the opportunity to be part of something greater than ourselves” – says Schofield

Create your own crowdfunding campaign

South Africa’s leading crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy has supported more than 10 000+ individuals and charities in setting up fundraising campaigns for medical fees, tuition, and various causes in South Africa. The platform has thus far raised over R200 Million.

For more information email or click here.

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