Sustainable Giving: A Quick Guide to Tax-Savvy Donating



By Michaela Badenhorst

Hey fellow change-makers! Tax season is around the corner, and guess what? Giving is not only greatly rewarding,  but it can also be a savvy savings method for you or your company! 

As South Africans, we know how to face challenges head-on, and when it comes to rallying for a cause, nobody does it better! In 2024, we’re tackling many of our societal and environmental challenges with incredible ingenuity and energy (or gees!).

We’ve learned that smaller grassroots organizations bring the agility and passion needed to tackle many of our critical issues. Because of this, both individuals and companies now have many fantastic ways to support the causes close to their hearts. But in these financially tricky times, let’s ensure our contributions go where they’re needed most – directly into the hands of those making a real difference.

As we gear up for Tax Season, here are some tips on how you and your business can be real game-changers while still growing your returns. Enter the rockstars of the do-good world: Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Public Benefit Organizations (PBOs). At Greenpop, we’re proud to hold both an NGO and PBO status!

Now, let’s decode the acronyms – NGOs, PBOs, Sections 18As, and all that jazz. 

In the dynamic landscape of social responsibility and community engagement, the acronyms “NGO” (Non-Governmental Organization) and “PBO” (Public Benefit Organization) carry significant weight, representing entities at the forefront of positive change. These registrations not only enhance an organization’s credibility but also foster transparency, as registered NGOs and PBOs are accountable to regulatory frameworks and are often eligible for certain benefits and privileges that support their charitable endeavours in the South African context. NGOs and PBOs share a common mission: addressing societal issues and contributing to the greater good. However, each designation has its own unique characteristics that set them apart.


Picture these organisations  as the change-makers operating independently, free from government influence. NGOs fight for human rights, save the environment, and promote healthcare. They get their superpowers (funding) from donations, grants, and partnerships, giving them the freedom to champion various important causes. 

A registered and vetted NGO should be able to supply you with their registration number and/or their registration certificate on request.


These are the cool cousins of NGOs. Public Benefit Organizations focus expressly on public benefit activities (PBAs) such as activities relating to pubic institutions, religious institutions, day care centres, disaster relief organisations, health clinics, etc.In South Africa, PBOs play a key role in taxes. They’re eligible to hand out Section 18A Tax Certificates, giving donors the power to claim tax deductions on their contributions. It’s like a win-win handshake between PBOs and donors, making it a powerhouse combo for making a positive impact. 

An NGO who has PBO status will be able to provide you with a PBO number on request. 

Section 18A Tax Certificate:

A Section 18A Tax Certificate is an official document issued by a Public Benefit Organization (PBO) to individuals or businesses who make charitable donations. This certificate enables the donors to claim a deduction on their taxable income when filing their annual tax returns with SARS. In essence, it’s a proof of donation that allows you, the donor, to claim tax deductions on your contributions, adding a great incentive for individuals and businesses to be philanthropic superheroes.

A ‘Good Kharma Guide’ to claiming tax returns on your donations:

Step 1: Confirm PBO Status

Before making a donation, verify that the organization that you want to support is a registered Public Benefit Organization (PBO) with Section 18A status. You can also ask them to provide you with their PBO number so that you can verify this status. This ensures that your contribution will qualify for a tax certificate.

Step 2: Decide on your budget

Determine a budget for your charitable contributions, ensuring it aligns with your financial capacity. According to SARS guidelines, individuals and businesses can claim back on donations of up to 10% of their taxable income. Opt for sustainable donations within your budget, as ongoing contributions tend to have a more significant impact than one-time, non-recurring contributions.

Step 3: Make Your Donation/s

Generously contribute to the PBO’s cause, knowing that your support will have a meaningful impact on their initiatives.

Step 4: Take note of the deadlines

For individuals, the financial year wraps up at the end of February and tax season generally runs from July-October of that year. For businesses, these dates are a little different depending on your business type and financial year choice. It’s important to keep track of  your tax deadlines so that you can be well prepared for them. Make sure to begin gathering all of your documentation and requesting your s18A Tax Certificates 2-4 weeks in advance of of tax deadline. 

Step 5: Request Your s18A Tax Certificate

Reach out to the PBO that you have supported and request that they supply you with a Section 18A Tax Certificate for your donation. You can either request this immediately after making your donation, or you can request a certificate at the end of the tax year for all donations made within that year. Typically, this request can be made through the organisation’s official communication channels, such as email or a designated contact person. 

Step 6: Provide the correct information

On requesting your s18A Certificate, the organisation is likely to ask you to provide your details for the certificate. Details will generally including the donation amount, date, and your personal or organisational contact details.

Step 7: Receive and Verify Your Certificate

Upon your request, the PBO will issue your Section 18A Tax Certificate. Upon receipt, carefully review the certificate to ensure accuracy, including the correct donation amount and the PBO’s registration details. 

Step 8: Complete Your Tax Return

When completing your tax return, look for the section related to deductions or donations. Provide the necessary information, including the details from your Section 18A Tax Certificate. Ensure that all required documents, including your Section 18A Tax Certificate, are attached when you submit your return. 

Step 9: Celebrate the Impact

Once your tax return is processed, celebrate the impact of your charitable contribution and the financial benefits derived from your Section 18A Tax Certificate.

By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth process of requesting, verifying, and submitting your Section 18A Tax Certificate, maximizing both your philanthropic impact and tax benefits.

Already a Greenpop supporter? Request your s18A Tax Certificate below:

We’re so happy to be able to supply our wonderful supporters with the option to claim back and get rewarded for your generosity.

All we need from you is a few details which you can give us HERE. On receiving your request we’ll get back to you in 2-4 business days with your s18A Tax Certificate. 

Not a part of the TREEvolution just yet? Start giving GREEN and getting back.

Ready to kickstart your Green Giving in 2024?

At Greenpop we’re on a mission to plant trees, green communities and empower environmental stewards across Sub-Saharan Africa.

There are so many ways to get involved:

Get started today and see your returns grow.

We hope this guide has given you a greater understanding of how you can can Gain while you Give. Together we can make sure that your hard earned funds are getting where they are most effective and impactful this tax season.

Greenpop Foundation NPC is a registered non-profit organisation. Registration Number (NPO): 151-411 NPO.