The Donaldson Trust is the oldest private trust fund for black social development in South Africa. It was founded in 1936 by Lieutenant Colonel James Donaldson D.S.O. to 'advance the status, improve the conditions and remove the disabilities suffered by the black African population of South Africa; and generally to seek their benefit and betterment'.
In 1935, Donaldson was deeply disturbed by draft legislation that deprived black South Africans of the vote in the Cape. He paid for the leaders of the All-African Congress to travel to Cape Town to lobby MPs and rouse public opinion. They were successful and the bill was withdrawn.
Since then, the trust has fought to address the inequalities of the South African political and social reality. It has built hospitals, dams, schools and universities including the Donaldson Wing at Fort Hare University and the Soweto landmark, Donaldson Orlando Community Centre (D.O.C.C.) where former President Nelson Mandela boxed and Miriam Makeba first performed.
The Donaldson Trust works with a broad spectrum of projects including education, youth projects, HIV/Aids related programmes, agricultural support, mental health, disability programmes and hospices.Trustees work on a pro bono basis and funds are allocated to upliftment only. The Donaldson Trust meets on a quarterly basis at the Priory of St John in Westcliff Johannesburg.