Some 30 percent (36 000) of the country’s 122 000 registered non-governmental organisations (NGOs) had to close down in 2013 due to growing financial shortages, huge pressure on fundraising as well as non-compliance with legal requirements.
Cape Town Society for the Blind (CTSB) chief executive officer (CEO), Lizelle van Wyk, describes the situation as shocking especially if one takes into consideration that government subsidises NGOs to the tune of R31 billion annually.
“The mere closure of an NGO for the wrong reason is in itself ‘n waste of government funds, which no one really can afford,” she says.
Van Wyk added that the situation is exacerbated by an increase in corruption as well as cover-ups on what their funding is actually being spent on. In certain cases, this has damaged or permanently ruined the trust between certain NGOs and its donors.
“One must remember that once a donor has been deceived on what his or her funds have actually been spent on, that donor will not support any NGOs soon,” she warns.
Apart from the financial nightmares experienced by many NGOs, others battle because of a hit-and-run policy applied by management.
In addition to a lack of strategic planning and management skills, there is no vision. While at some NGOs management’s approach has become stale due to the fact that their leaders have been too long at the organisations, others are challenged by weak production and a lack of quality control.
The essence of a successful NGO can be found in a strong management team, a more commercialised approach towards your organisation. In other words, by becoming more profitable and financially independent as well as progressively investing in your workers.
“These qualities should enable your NGO to negotiate more funding and become more successful,” she adds.
Hannl Cronjé, CEO at Orion, a NGO that cares for the needs of people living with disabilities in Atlantis, believes that a NGO’s financial survival has much to do with the position of trust between the NGO, its donors as well as the community in which it operates.
“Without honesty and transparency on how donor funds are actually being used, an NGO will undoubtedly be forced to close down,” she says.
According to Cronjé, many NGOs use donor funding primarily for their immediate survival needs without creating a long-term and sustainable planning like the training of personnel as well as the improvement of infrastructure.
“And, that is a certain recipe for failure.”
“Also, to be more successful NGOs will have to work much closer. We need to support and help one another. We should share our resources and knowledge plus exchange our skills. Maintain an open-door policy because we have nothing to hide.”
- This article was written by Lizelle van Wyk, Executive Director of Cape Town Society for the Blind.
Photo Courtesy: lifebeyondlimits.com.au/