NPOs must be part of rebuilding SA

Setlogane Manchidi | Investec

Nonprofit organisations have a crucial role to play in service delivery, given the lack of government capacity

Despite still being in the thick of the pandemic and its social impact, many will undoubtedly agree that our efforts should be forward looking and focused on exploring ways to help pick up the pieces and rebuild our country and rebuild better.

We know that the government, the business sector and many other bodies will be key in this regard. However, the efforts of the vital nonprofit organisation (NPO) sector go largely unnoticed, whereas, in my opinion, they should be at the heart of SA’s rebuild.

Staff volunteerism is inextricably linked to SA’s NPOs, and while it is heartening to see an increased show of solidarity by corporate SA, sadly it is nowhere near enough to address the scale of the problem. The pandemic has served to worsen SA’s unique socioeconomic challenges, which are characterised by unequal income and wealth distribution. Given the lack of government capacity, the service delivery gap must be filled. NPOs exist to do exactly that; they are involved in every facet of impoverished society, but they too have their challenges.

As a result, other sectors need to be creative in resourcing the NPO sector and keeping it sustainable. The need for a solid and vibrant NPO sector to assist and support the many people in need has never been greater.

These organisations have played a critical role in sustaining communities, families and individuals through these very difficult times; yet, just when the country more than ever needs NPOs they have been badly hit. Putting NPOs front and centre of SA’s rebuild project would entail labelling these challenges and finding ways to address them.

With this in mind, corporates and government should consider their role in strengthening the sector. Those of us who work with NPOs are familiar with their challenges. Chief among these is limited financial resources, with reliance on government grants, corporate support and donations from foundations, philanthropists and ordinary people. Sadly, during this crisis NPOs found their fund-raising abilities curtailed amid lockdowns and an economy under pressure. And they experienced an increase in the demands of serving the most vulnerable communities, which inevitably amplified their expenses.

Simply put, without sufficient income NPOs’ much-needed services cannot be delivered. Corporates, alongside charitable trusts and grant-making foundations, ought to reconsider how best to reallocate corporate social investment (CSI) resources to better assist NPOs. But money alone will not make the NPO sector sustainable. The operating business models of many NPOs are shaky and unsustainable in the long term; governance and financial management at some are weak. A good start for CSI would be training to prepare those keen to serve on NPO boards, and allowing employees to voluntarily sign up for NPO board training.
 

Vigilance and opportunity

NPOs are not uncontaminated by the scourge of corruption. It is no surprise that times of crisis also lead to the establishment of new NPOs, some unfortunately founded with opportunistic intentions. Though the majority of NPOs have good intentions, vigilance is required to maintain and even strengthen public trust.

My observation on the ground is that those NPOs with capable leadership are better able to adapt to fast-changing circumstances — and therefore have a better chance of survival. This form of capacity building doesn’t  necessarily require financial help, but rather the creation of opportunities for skilled and experienced people, through staff volunteering in the case of corporates, to give of their time.

Ultimately, the SA rebuilding project is likely to depend on broad economic recovery. NPOs feed into this recovery by strengthening communities and supporting individuals to actively participate in the economy. The assistance of NPOs is invaluable in providing for needy, disabled, sick, aged and vulnerable members of society and it is essential that we start making them part of the solution.

 

Setlogane Manchidi | Investec

Setlogane Manchidi is head of Investec’s CSI division in South Africa where he champions Investec's contribution to society focusing on education and entrepreneurship. 

Related articles


NGOs must be part and parcel of achieving global SDGs
Insights
Social impact organisations’ engagement with the UN’s sustainable development goals is critical since their agendas are ultimately the same. While the Covid-19 pandemic rages, we often focus all our attention on surviving the day-to-day struggles while neglecting crucial global long-term...
Covid-19 and the yearning for a collective narrative
Insights
Over the past few weeks, I’ve come across three different reports observing that the course of the Covid-19 pandemic does not follow our expectations for how a story should play out. All three suggest that this narrative failure partly explains the difficulty in mounting a unified public response...
We need to rethink how the non-profit sector is financed
Insights
Why should non-profit organisations be expected to operate any differently to private businesses when it comes to covering overheads? Increasingly, philanthropic funders are building into their grants a cushion for funding operating expenses – and this is the right way to go. In 2013 a new TED t...
Narrative Emergency Kit: How should we prepare for the next crisis?
Insights
Watching tragedy unfold in Ukraine, I have been thinking about the powerful, rapid, and often unexpected impact that major, shocking events can have on narratives that underpin our understanding of the world. While narrative and culture change work tends to take years, events have the power t...
What is UX design and why is it important for your nonprofit?
Insights
UX means “user experience” and refers to designing and creating products with the user in mind. With nonprofits, this can refer to how a user experiences your organisation via your website. For example, let’s imagine that someone hears about your organisation through a social media post, and the...
Funding crisis in North West as Social Development department fails to pay subsidies
Insights
One organisation has already had to close three offices Many non-profit organisations say they are battling to keep their doors open, and some have been forced to close due to non-payment by the North West Department of Social Development. This is affecting the livelihoods of staff and the se...
Good governance, transparency and accountability are thin on the ground in South Africa – civil society must lead the way
Insights
Once an organisation receives public benefit status and does not pay tax on its income, how transparent should the public expect it to be? Contrary to the US, in South Africa people prefer to undertake their philanthropy under the radar. There is currently a major debate about philanthropic acco...
The impact of the Ukraine War on South Africa's food system
Insights
Wars, even wars that are far away, will always affect those who are most vulnerable. In this piece, Tamsin Faragher explains how a distant conflict could lead to a food security crisis at home. When I was 14 - I started attending the End Conscription Campaign meetings. Being a girl, there was ze...
Half of non-profit organisations are failing to comply with the law
Insights
Department of Social Development claims it is deregistering non-compliant organisations. The Department of Social Development (DSD) says only half the more than 250,000 registered non-profit organisations are compliant with legal requirements. In a statement, the Department said there had ...
What do we mean by effective storytelling? Letting go of magic bullets
Insights
How do we tell more effective stories? This is a central question for us at IRIS, a new collaborative hub that brings together funders, storytellers and activists. It’s something I have been interested in since the early days of my career, in radio current affairs in South Africa in the ninet...


© All rights reserved. 

Back to Top