The “CEO SleepOut” is a concept that originated in 2006 by local business leader Bernard Fehon & has been running internationally in over 8 different countries since then.

South Africa had its first sleep-out earlier this year & managed to raise a record-breaking R26,054,869, proving to be the largest single amount raised at a charity event in South Africa.

It is the largest sum ever raised by a single South African charity event, while worldwide it is the largest amount of funds raised for any inaugural event. Sydney hosted their 10th event this year & Johannesburg raised more than Sydney in year one – despite the weakened exchange rate.

Two hundred forty-seven CEOs and business leaders participated in The CEO SleepOut on 18 June this year—an evening in which the temperature dropped to -3ºC. The business elite & decision-makers were challenged to reveal their character, compassion & grit by donating R100 000 to be part of an organised experience of sleeping on a cold pavement for just one night, with only a sleeping bag & cardboard floor-covering.

Ali Gregg, founder of The Philanthropic, which brought the CEO SleepOut concept & brand from Australia, has confirmed that all the funds raised are being held by Girls & Boys Town South Africa.

“Everyone involved is thrilled to see an organisation like Girls & Boys Town receiving a donation of this size, knowing that GBT offers long-term, sustainable solutions and care to homeless and vulnerable children.”

Whereas globally The CEO SleepOut brand principles rest on the pillars of Shelter, Healthcare, Education and Nutrition, the trust has included a 5th pillar unique to the South African landscape – Community.

Girls & Boys Town CEO Lee Loynes is incredible humbled by the donation & knows that this will go above & beyond their foundation….

“This is a moment in our history that we will never forget because through the event our children, those cared for by other similar organisations and those living on the streets – young and old – have become visible.”

Various blogs & news-agents reported that the initiative may have missed the point as the CEO’s were quite comfy & it was “just one night, not really, on the street”.

But the amount raised speaks volumes & that makes all the difference, the initiative created talkability, raised awareness & more so, raised millions!

“The CEO SleepOut illustrated the power of collective energy to show the true spirit of ‘ubuntu’,” says Brett Levy, Joint-CEO of Blue Label Telecoms, who contributed the highest donation of R540,000.

“It was indeed a humbling experience,” says Paul Dunne, CEO of Northam Platinum, who contributed the second-highest sum of R429,900, exceeding over four times the set-minimum of R100,000 per contributor.

Investec Bank’s CEO Stephen Koseff, who raised R400,500, added: “We live in a world of inequality and if you become a CEO you are very privileged. Being one of the privileged few, we have to understand how the underprivileged live.”

Moreover, and owing to the great success of this event, Gregg has announced that The Philanthropic and CEO SleepOut Trust have already made plans to host nationwide SleepOuts™  in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth in 2016.

For more information, visit The CEO SleepOut website at


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Brent Lindeque
About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and man in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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