Non-governmental organizations (NGO), especially in South Africa are community builders. This means that majority of the time colleagues working for NGOs are out and about within the community; teaching, gathering information, supporting and most importantly building the community.
The current lockdown climate due to COVID19 has mandated that each of us do our part. We have been requested to #StayAthome and #StaySafe. This can be considered a crippling time for most NGOs who grow and thrive by actively being part of the community.
By now you must have read all the “how to be productive at home” guides; even seen few memes of people standing in a bathtub as if in a crowed train (all in the name of reenacting their commute to work). Most of these ‘how to guides’ are focused on persons who would usually go into an office each morning. NGO colleagues go out to communities. Our offices are churches, town halls, schools, shelters, parks and sometimes it may be in someone’s backyard.
Whatever your situation here is a list of suggestions for NGOs during this lockdown period:
What makes community work fulfilling is the ability to engage with members of the community and if that is all we can do all day, that is what we would do. However, with all that time spent outside, sometimes the paper work piles up. Now is the time to sit down and start digging through that paper work.
What about those stats that had to be sent? Is that report nearly done and can it be submitted for review? Admin is a chore but once done, life continues easily. Furthermore, now that you are home maybe someone has a suggestion on how you can be more efficient. Ask for help, no one is going to give you a side eye (trust me). Use your resources!
The landscape of engaging with funders and stakeholders is changing right before our eyes. As community builders, NGOs get first hand exposure about the changes our communities need. Resources are limited but ideas are plenty. With this down time, NGOs now have time to plan and propose ideas which could benefit the stakeholders they serve. Write down ideas because innovative ideas are always needed, more especially now. Funders like to see innovative ideas. Be proactive!
Yes, plan for the future. Have you updated your organization’s constitution since the first time you drew it up? (do you even know its location… now I am side eyeing you). Are you planning on engaging a board of directors for your NGO? Who have you scouted for positions? Do you have policies in place for your NGO or have you reviewed these? Once you get back into work, you may not have time to do these things. Now is the time to plan your path.
All the above is not possible unless you have a positive mindset. President Ramaphosa has shown true leadership during these trying times. NGOs have to be positive for communities and play their part in helping the government. As NGOs we have knowledge and extensive network of our communities. We are needed to point out which stakeholders are the most vulnerable. We are aware what works and what doesn’t. We are a buzzing part of society with innovative solutions. We need to continue providing guidance and positivity.
This lockdown is not a community shut down. Communities need our organizations more than ever. NGOs are vital building block of this nation and during these uncertain times NGOs voices should be heard even louder. Engage with your stakeholder whether telephonically, via WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook.
#BeSafe #BePositive #BeProductive
Mapule Pule is lawyer by profession and an active board member of Early Years Service, an NGO which focuses on early childhood development through educating communities of foetal alcohol syndrome as well as helping to set up toy libraries in the Western Cape.