There are many churches and other concerned organisations who are wanting to respond to the food security crisis that has become a serious consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are some complexities around food parcels as a response to COVID-19 at the moment and so we have tried to focus on the food voucher model. We have piloted the project in partnership with the South African Council of Churches and it has worked well.
We are working together with some brilliant minds on this voucher project system but we do ask for patience and understanding as the system is improved over the next couple of weeks. We are working to improve the efficiency of the system, the security and privacy of the information we are all processing and the variety of voucher options available to recipients. Your participation and feedback is critical to the emergence of a good system but
it is important to know you are part of an emerging system.
On a practical level, what we are inviting churches to do is the following:
STEP 1: Express your interest and make contact
Send an email to email@example.com letting us know that you’d like to be part of the Hope Voucher Campaign. We will send you a simple MoA and answer any questions that you may have.
STEP 2: Know your voucher size and type
You will need to determine the Rand value of the voucher you want to send and whether you want to distribute a supermarket or Flash voucher. Flash vouchers will require additional preparation time in the community where recipients live and so are unlikely to be immediately available. (At the moment vouchers for Shoprite group (Shoprite, Checkers & USave), Pick n Pay and Boxer Stores are available.
STEP 3: Acquire the relevant info for an excel spreadsheet
Develop a list of voucher recipients to be captured into an excel template we will send you. It must contain a combination of the following:
Name & Surname; ID or Passport Number if not an SA Citizen; Province; Post Code (4 digits only); Supermarket or Flash Voucher; Cellphone Number (must be preceded by a ‘0’ and have no spaces). Once your spreadsheet is complete you will need to password protect the file before sending it to us.
STEP 4: Email your list and deposit funds
Send the password protected list of recipients to us via email at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Funds will also need to be deposited and proof of payment sent before vouchers can be distributed. There is a R3 per voucher admin cost which covers the SMS messages. This cost must be included when calculating what is owed and is paid to us via EFT. We have set p a bank account that exclusively receives voucher payments.
STEP 5: Distribution of voucher details to vendors
Voucher lists will be sent by us to the vendors on a Wednesday and Friday morning for distribution within 24 to 36 hours of that. We will require completed lists and payment 24 hours in advance of the voucher distribution.
STEP 6: Beneficiary to receive SMS
In less than 36 hours the beneficiary will receive an SMS message, including a voucher number and will be able to use the voucher immediately.
1. What happens if I send an incorrect cell phone number?
We are asking that cell phone numbers are inputted with great care as an incorrect number sent to us, means a voucher will be sent to that incorrect number and it cannot be retrieved once it has been sent
2. Must the beneficiary spend the full voucher amount at once?
Beneficiaries can spend the full amount at once or spend part of the voucher initially and then spend the balance later. They will get a reminder SMS if they haven’t spent the full voucher amount. They cannot spend more than the voucher value. If they attempt to do so the transaction will fail. If this happens they can remove items from their basket and try again.
3. What happens if my beneficiary doesn’t receive their voucher?
There are always variables outside our control, so issues could be:
- Incorrectly captured cell number
- Cell number is no longer active/registered with a network
- Delay in delivery caused by network coverage issues
- System error by the 3rd party bulk SMS partner.
In all cases, eventually the undelivered SMS is returned to us with the appropriate reason.
4. What happens if my beneficiary deletes their voucher before using it?
If a voucher is deleted before it is used, we can try to have it resent to the beneficiary. This will depend on administrative capacity. If not, the beneficiary can be added to the next list sent for distribution.
5. What happens if my beneficiary has trouble using the voucher in the store?
These vouchers do work. The company we use has been distributing millions of Rands worth of vouchers across the country each month for many years. Beneficiaries should tell the cashier that they want to make a purchase using a WiCODE. If they are still having trouble, they should seek assistance from a Store Manager.
6. Can we personalise the message sent in the SMS to the beneficiary?
At the moment this is not possible but we are working on integrating it into the system in the coming weeks. We are limited to 160 characters in the SMS message. If we can fit the message in without compromising the other important information like voucher value, store information and voucher number, then we can personalise a message within the 160 characters.
7. What about protection of personal information?
We are committed to ensuring that the relevant legislation around protection of private information is complied with. Over the next few weeks we will be migrating to an online platform and process that will be fully compliant. For now we do this via our collective processes by getting permission from the recipient when capturing their data, by password protecting the spreadsheets we use and by ensuring the voucher vendor will
not retain private information beyond the duration of the project.
Once our system is fully automated we will be able to generate our own reports which will be sent to donors and sponsors. At the moment we can request reports from the voucher company which gives us information regarding vouchers distributed.