Saturday October 1st 2022

A Big Issue : non-profit street mag may crash and burn

Proudly South African non-profit magazine, The Big Issue, is facing a funding crisis.

You’ve heard it all before, right? Wrong. The publication is a classic ‘teach a man to fish’ story, as it does not promote hand-outs to aid those in desperate financial need. Rather, the philosophy is fantastically simple, but overwhelmingly powerful : help others to help themselves.

The world needs companies, people, organisations and magazines like The Big Issue. The people who benefit from non-profits such as these need them even more.

If you can help – or know of anybody who can, no matter where they (or you) are in the world – please read this plea from contributor Caryn Gootkin.

’ve been involved with The Big Issuefor over a decade. I can therefore personally vouch for the integrity of the organisation and its staff, and for the life-changing service they offer to the vulnerable and marginalised in our society.

Despite this, those of you who know me well will realise that writing emails like this one does not come naturally to me and that I wouldn’t do so if the situation wasn’t dire.

TBI survives partly on fundraising and partly on earned income from advertising in and sales of the magazine. In our current economic climate all three of these streams are running dry. Our MD, Trudy Vlok, whom I’ve copied on this mail, is currently filling two full-time roles as she is sole fundraiser on top of running the organisation. Despite her continued efforts, the funder’s budgets are getting tighter and tighter and, as I’m sure you’ve read, TBI is not the only NGO affected. Those of you in the publishing world will know that similarly advertisers are cutting their costs too. The crunch affects our readers too and sales are dropping despite the high quality, thought-provoking read The Big Issue has become.

This appeal, however, is not for the organisation itself, nor its staff. I appeal to you on behalf of the vendors: the men and women who have come to TBI as a last resort when they had nowhere else to turn. They courageously brave the elements and the disparaging attitudes of some people to be at their pitch day in and day out, trying to put food on their table without having to beg.

If TBI can’t pay its staff, which is the reality it faces at the moment, there will be nobody to produce the magazine and nobody to provide the essential social support services to the vendors. The knock-on effect will be enormous.

Please, I’m appealing to you from the bottom of my heart, help the Big Issue. Pass this email on to anyone you think may be able to help. You are welcome to speak to Trudy on +27 (0)21-461-6690 or 083-973-9232 or mail her on The Big Issue is always open to trade exchanges and advertising deals.

But, if you are simply a member of the public with a desire to make a difference, let me know and I’ll send you the bank details. (Please use CRISIS PLEA and your name as a reference and email Trudy a copy of the deposit slip and your details so that she can thank you personally. )

Let’s save this organisation that performs such a vital role in the lives of so many South Africans.




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