A decade of grace
Distance For Difference was founded early in 2005 as a response to the broadcasting of images of total devastation and people in need after the Asian Tsunami of 26 December 2004. Stéphan Pieterse asked a question…
What can I do to make a difference in this broken world? A world often without hope and without answers to the hardship we so frequently experience. The answer: START RUNNING. Stéphan started 2 running to make a difference in people’s lives. Since those first few strides taken in January 2005, many other athletes, including cyclists and swimmers, have joined him. Today, more than a decade later, Distance For Difference (D4D) is making a significant difference in the lives of specifically children in need of a brighter future.
During the first two years of its existence, D4D raised a total of R50,000. During the following eight, this shot up to nearly R4,000,000. Funds are generated by mobilizing athletes and assisting them to raise sponsorships for every kilometer which they complete during a year or for specific events.
“Children in need are our passion in deed”. Our dream is for the children of South Africa to grow up in stable family environments where the fear of abuse or abandonment is absent; with access to quality education, so that they can become adults who can positively contribute to the future of South Africa and its people.
How do we raise funds?
Besides individual athletes raising funds, D4D currently has two main events through which they raise funds. Firstly there is the bi-annual, THE500, a 24-hour cycling and spinning event that is organized by D4D. The first THE500 was first held in 2013. This event has a fundraising target of R500,000. Secondly there is the annual Cape Town Cycle Tour, previously called the Argus Cycle Tour, where D4D pre-book 150 entries. Cyclists are then encourage to take up these spots and to raise money through their efforts on the day of the 110 km cycling event.
D4D assists individual athletes, for example someone who would like to run 1,000 km during a year, like Stéphan did during the first few years, and those signing up for the above mentioned events, to raise sponsorships via web based sponsorship pages.
Each athlete is responsible for approaching their friends, family members and colleagues for sponsorship for every kilometer they complete.
Many of our athletes target other specific events for their fundraising efforts, including the ABSA Cape EPIC, Ironman, Two Oceans and Comrades Ultra Marathons.
D4D also has a limited number of committed monthly donors both in South Africa and overseas.
“What you can do, we cannot do, and what we can do, you cannot do, but together we can do something beautiful” (Mother Teresa)
How are the funds managed and distributed?
D4D is a registered Section 21 company (Registration number: 2003/028061/08) and public benefit organisation (PBO number: 930 018 736). A board of seven directors headed up by the founder, Stéphan Pieterse, manages the organisation. All the directors have full time occupations and do their work for D4D on a pro-bono and after hours basis.
The board has decided to approve the appointment of one office administrator, responsible for all admin, in June 2015. This is a half-day position.
Organisations working with children in need are required to complete a very detailed request for financial assistance (RFA), available for download on D4D’s website, which is then reviewed by the D4D directors. Where possible, a physical inspection/visit of the applying organisation will typically form part of such a review process.
A decision on the amount and frequency of support is then taken at one of D4D’s quarterly board meetings and the funds then distributed accordingly.
The appropriate use of the allocated money is also closely monitored for the duration of the commitment.
Safety of donations
D4D’s finances are audited by our Cape Town based accountants, Financial Hub. We have an open book policy and our financial statements may be viewed at any time.
A few recent beneficiaries
- Atlantic Hope: R18,000 towards their monthly running costs. “Thank you so much for the donation!!! We are so grateful for it and thank you for coming all the way to meet us – it was great to meet such like-minded, amazing people!”
- Sylvia Frank’s Foster Care: R120,000 towards mainly the cost of education for nine children. “I have no words. Thank you so much. D4D has given more than I had hoped for and released the pressure once more.”
- Child Welfare Durban & District: R8,000 for the purchase of two double bunk beds and a top loader washer for two of the family homes. “On behalf of our Board of Governors, the Executive Director and the children placed in our care, we would like to Thank You for your generosity. We are humbled to be beneficiaries of Distance For Difference… Thank you for making a tangible difference in the lives of our children.”
- Uyavula Reading & Writing Project: R6,000 donation towards administrative costs. “Sincere thanks to the board of D4D for financial assistance to the Uyavula Reading and Writing Project, it is such good news. It is wonderful to know that you support us, also through your prayers, as we strive to bring the Kingdom and the Heavenly Father’s will to prevail in the lives of children, it means a lot.”
A few personal insights by Stéphan
In his book “A million miles in a thousand years”, Donald Miller talks about creating and writing a good life story. He says and I quote, “If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation.” Over the years, the character in my life’s story has definitely been transformed as a result of my involvement with children in need and helping to create a better future for them.
During this time I also had to learn a few hard life lessons. There was a time when I was so pre-occupied to make a difference in the lives of others in need, that I failed to see the need my own family members had for my time, love and guidance. During the last decade I spent hours and hours managing D4D and subsequently I neglected my loved ones.
I realized I to seriously had to consider the future of D4D. After some serious thinking and praying, I received the answer to continue, but under specific conditions . Two of them being the appointment of an administrator and getting the D4D board members to re-commit to the cause. So, the best life lesson I’ve learned is…
“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” – Ronald Reagan
Live a life of significance, but make sure it starts at home!
After experiencing what can be achieved during the months before the inaugural THE500 in 2013, by a team of committed individuals each bringing their strengths to the table, I vowed to never again attempt to do things on my own and to let others do their bit.
Shifting the focus from your own needs to those of others will change your life forever. Your character WILL be transformed. I can guarantee that. Today I am still writing my story and I am still being transformed on a daily basis. Is your page still empty? It does not need to stay that way…
“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” - Benjamin Disraeli