The Ackerman Family

“Most of the things we do as a family no-one knows anything about… Nearly everything my wife does, and my daughters do, and my son – no-one knows anything about what we are doing.  It is just done.” The Ackerman Family received the 2007 Inyathelo Award for Family Philanthropy.


“We have several foundations in the family, but my particular interest has always been education…giving bursaries to those in need, and this has been going on for over 30 years. If I was asked what South Africans can do in philanthropy,I would say that everybody can help, everybody can be a philanthropist.  It’s a very fancy word for helping your neighbour.” -- Wendy Ackerman, Awardee, Inyathelo Award for Family Philanthropy 2007

The ethos of social responsibility has been part of the Ackerman family for decades.  In both the personal and corporate spheres, Raymond and Wendy Ackerman have contributed enormously to social development in South Africa and, importantly, have raised their children as philanthropists.  The Ackermans have a number of personal foundations, the most recently established being the Ackerman Family Foundation in which the whole family is involved.  With the establishment of their Family Foundation, the Ackermans have given real meaning to the concept of “family philanthropy”. 

Remarkably, four members of the Ackerman family were individually nominated for the Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards. The individual members of the Ackerman family, nominated by different organizations, were:

Raymond Ackerman

Wendy Ackerman

Kathy Robins

Suzanne Ackerman-Berman

Philanthropic social investment by the Ackerman family, both in terms of money and time, has benefited an enormous range of South African organizations and individuals.  Beneficiary institutions and organisations include, amongst many others:

  • The Red Cross Children’s Hospital
  • The Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business
  • The WHEAT Trust
  • The Cape Town Opera Trust
  • The Aids Foundation
  • The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund
  • The Shoebox Houses project
  • The Down Syndrome Association Western Cape
  • Habitat for Humanity

“I think we all have to live by example ... try and help where we can and give of ourselves.  If it’s not financially, it’s time, it’s love, it’s passion, it’s energy.  If every single person can reach out and make a difference, and pass that forward to somebody else, I think we can change the community and society we live in.” --Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, Awardee, Inyathelo Award for Family Philanthropy 2007