A report on the challenges faced in South Africa as an NPO

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Our 67 minutes for this year takes a different stance. We have taken the liberty to write this report on the challenges faced in South Africa as NPOs. We thank you for reading this document.

Many organisations around the world, including non-profit organisations (NPOs) dedicate their time, energy and services towards the upliftment of society and humanity. In South Africa, there is a culmination of NPOs that focus on various causes and initiatives. These speak to various needs of the communities, ranging from health, poverty, education, entrepreneurship and skills.

The Humanitarians is a unique NPO based in South Africa that focuses towards health, education, sport, sustainability and innovation. The projects and initiatives are conducted and measured through research – this is where the novelty of the NPO comes in. The NPO has been in existence for nearly three years and the office bearers on the organisation have incurred personal expenses to disseminate and implement the various projects (even though this was done with sincerity). This barrier has been predominantly due to a variety of challenges that the NPO has faced in the last few years and this document aims to clarify these as well as why we believe South Africa is not progressing as we should as a nation, despite the richness we have in terms of culture, skill and expertise.

Firstly, it must serve as a reminder that South Africa is a cultural and diverse society that ultimately makes its people rich as a nation. However, there is a growing epidemic (not only of chronic disease) of poverty and illiteracy. As such, education, health and employment for all should therefore be at its forefront to counteract the burden of crime that is faced (sporadically or intermittently) due to these limitations.

Secondly, the funding blanket nationally is questionable (primarily at government level). We recognise the efforts been made by the private sector whereby their corporate social responsibility (CSR) percentages are spent annually, even though most of these companies make a return on investment via their CSR and this is understandable. The focus on this document is not on the ethical demeanour on the private sector, but rather on the pubic sector. The Humanitarians have had consistent challenges of rejection of funding from an array of funding bodies. These were mainly due to incompetencies from funding bodies, loss of documents via post, delay in communication or limited funding available (“Thank you for your application, however…”); and not based on the merit, credibility and objectives (vision and mission) of our NPO.

In addition, the bureaucracy (red tape) of accessing or applying for funding is exhilarating; to the point where most of the processes are in due fact making workloads easier for the administration process. Although most would understand that funding bodies receive an exorbitant number of applications per year, we recommend that there should be a more stringent system in place to manage, critique and engage with such applications in order to make progress, and not regress.

Thirdly, based on field work and needs analysis, we have observed (without bias) that a minority of NPOs who sincerely do a world of good; 1) do not get the exposure and funding required and 2) notice that some NPOs are operating unlawfully and retrieve the funding ‘under the carpet’ for more personal sustenance than for community enhancement. Based on this observation, we recommend that such funding bodies should conduct random visits of NPO beneficiaries and/or audit the financial integrity of the NPO beneficiaries. A lot of the NPO beneficiaries have a budget that exceeds their tasks and requirements as opposed to some organisations that are scraping their pennies due to limited funds. Funding places a huge limitation on an NPO if they have so much to offer in terms of skills, a dedicated team, communities in need and minor resources.

Based on the challenges highlighted, we recommend a more stringent system of managing NPO funding applications in South Africa, frequently monitoring existing NPO beneficiaries, assessing the competency level of funding bodies and ensuring effective transparency. If these are implemented, there is no doubt that South Africa will overcome the aforementioned barriers by 2020.

Following in the footsteps of the Great Nelson Mandela, we aim to make a difference despite any challenges that we may have. It makes us stronger and makes our cause much more worthy. See below some of our favourites quotes and what keep us motivated to make a difference in our beautiful country. 

Best wishes, 

Habib Noorbhai (Director | Founder)

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