• Helen Suzman Foundation Welcomes Dramat Judgement

    The Helen Suzman Foundation welcomes the Pretoria high court ruling that the police cannot unilaterally suspend Hawks boss Anwa Dramat.

    The foundation took Dramat’s suspension to court, bringing an urgent application requesting that police minister, Nathi Nhleko’s decision to suspend him be set aside.

    Dramat was suspended on 23 December 2015, apparently pending a probe into his alleged involvement in the illegal rendition – the illegal kidnapping and transfer of prisoner from one country to another – of four Zimbabweans in November 2010.

    To read the article titled, “Helen Suzman Foundation welcomes Dramat judgement,” click here.

    Mail and Guardian
  • Mind your Ps, Q’s and Protect Your R’s in 2015

    This year will be filled with frustrations; fallout from power issues, cyber-attacks, unreliable postal services, argy-bargy politicking – you get the picture! Yet greater opportunities will surface by mid-year. A time to “Just smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave" as chanted by the Penguins in the movie Madagascar… just keep going, control yourselves, assess the situation and look for the positive.
    Nonprofit organisations (NPOs) demonstrating stamina, an eagerness to serve communities and nurturing relationships will prosper this year.
    Most popular causes attracting funding will be the big E for education (more than 40 percent from corporates) a bigger slice will go to early childhood development (ECD) than previous. Then to a lesser extent; children’s wellbeing and protection; health - communicable and non-communicable diseases; environment and climate change; sports development, animal welfare and wildlife; some interest in social justice, human rights, transparency and housing. 
    Our under-funded Cinderella remains to be areas of cultural activity: the performing arts; visual arts, crafts, museums, literature, film and video and historical buildings and monuments. The economic contribution and jobs created through this sector are under-valued by donors and the Department of Arts and Culture.
    Don’t forget this is a rich country with untapped sources, time to innovate and work smarter. A formulae devised by two learned gents in the late 1990s calculated that the NPO sector could secure 1.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In 2014, GDP was R3.5 trillion; this translates into R45.5 billion! Our thumb-suck for the sector in 2014 was around R28 billion. 
    Friends, philanthropy – say Please and Thank You
    It is not only individuals who seek appreciation but foundations and companies do as well. A ‘thank you’ is now an auto-response message or just standard blurb. Donors are not ATM machines. Don’t dehumanise your donors, work on each relationship and bond often by touch or voice. Committed donors want to hear the big ‘I’ for impact - is their money making a difference? 
    As donors become more skeptical and start to scrutinise good causes by asking tough questions, fundraising teams will have to up their game as the philanthropic spirit is fragile, treat it with care and respect.
    The millennial donor (those born between 1981 and 1995) expect an instant response and a higher level of engagement with daily updates. A periodic newsletter will not suffice so tap into Twitter, Apps, YouTube and other forms of social media. The next generation of donors, often called the Thumb generation, need to hear success stories and be up to speed on everything going on in the organisation such as how many board members and staff dig into own pockets and volunteer a few hours in the trenches?
    Corporate funding is losing direction and will flat line this year as companies become more inclined to award bigger slices of corporate social investment (CSI) allocations to their own community initiatives, bursary funds and donations to government bodies rather than to NPOs directly. Scoring Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) points has become an obsession with business and quite frankly that is not CSI. 
    Political party funding took centre-stage again during the run up to 2014 General Elections. It was rumoured that the private sector, wealthy individuals made donations up to half-billion Rand to major players; of course this cannot be confirmed as it is confidential stuff. Hats off to Absa Bank for issuing a press statement stating they will be stopping donations to political parties in future and giving more to NGOs and communities.
    While tried-and-true fundraising methods such as hosting special events, selling pop-corn, writing endless proposals, direct mail appeals, push-button online donations, etc, should continue to be employed, new ideas should be welcomed.
    Who could have predicted the avalanche of donations for the ALS Ice Bucket challenge which raised US$220 million globally? This was described by one seasoned fundraiser akin to the pet rock craze of the 1970s. Crowdfunding sites are launched everyday so take care in selecting the one best suited to your organisation. 
    Locally, checkout newcomers like, the Tipfuxeni Portal and Give n Gain, the latter gaining international interest, which is good news for South African charities.
    New payment Apps for smart phones are gaining traction such as Apple Pay, e-wallet services and SnapScan. Have you set up your barcodes yet?
    If you wish to start your own Crowdfunding campaign and want to know how then view GlobalGiving’s 11 Steps to Online Fundraising Success.
    Be more tech savvy and manage data security by introducing privacy and encryption policies to protect you and your organisation against data theft, cyber-attacks, and uninvited surveillance.  This is a real problem; don’t take it lightly, change passwords often and upgrade software. Prevent adware creep which is so annoying and time consuming.
    Think beyond emails for communicating and be prepared to dedicate more time and energy to managing websites, blogs and directing traffic to and from social media. Capisce?
    Will the Paperless Proposal be embraced in the NPO sector? The art of proposal writing will swing into what can only be described as movie making. Not to be confused with online forms with pre-populated questions, but cutting edge cloud computing; voice-overs, YouTube clips, drop down budgets and statistics, maps - the mind boggles. Make an introductory pitch in less than four minutes, update the details whilst discussing a project online with the donor, polish and deliver. This might meet with resistance from CSI departments for now, while some international foundations are testing already.
    Cheaper devices known as Phablets (combined phones and tablets) will mean more access through different channels. Speedier 5G connectivity by 2020 will liberate Africa while the acronym BYOD (bring in own personal devices) will be common in all work and public spaces.
    Meeting software such as; GoToMeeting, Adobe Connect Pro, Microsoft Online, Skype’s new features for document sharing and common viewing to name a few are getting cheaper and more reliable. Away with Telkom’s expensive teleconferencing!
    We don’t seem to talk much about digital currency in the sector but according to Sir Richard Branson this will transform the world - will this be Virgin Money?
    You might also want to explore Google for nonprofits? New apps are in abundance with other useful tools to assist the sector in raising funds or for monitoring projects or other tasks.
    Keep a look out for details on the ‘Digital Age e-Philanthropy and Fundraising’ Indaba that is planned for mid-year. 
    Protect your brand, your reputation
    Unethical behaviour and secretive moves from SANParks who tried to gag leaks about bonuses awarded to one of its highest paid employees who receives a basic salary of R95 000 per month to raise money to help in the war against rhino poaching, a R200 million fund. The fundraiser received ‘merit bonuses’ of R1.4 million in commission on donations. SANParks are reviewing their policies but this can’t be right when 1 020 Rhino were murdered during 2014.
    Greenpeace International will be busy this year re-building their image after ending up in hot water when it emerged that one of their most senior executives commuted 400 kilometres to work by plane twice a month, despite the environmental group’s campaign to curb aviation travel. Then again they were forced to apologise for a “serious error of judgment” after a loss of R51 million (£3 million) of public donations when a member of staff took part in unauthorised currency dealing. Then again causing ‘irreparable damage’ to the Nazca lines during a publicity stunt/protest intended for the United Nations climate talk delegates in Lima, Peru last December.
    Apparently there has been some hanky-panky between a board member and executive director of a well-known NGO who have been crossing professional boundaries for many years, saucy stuff. The fallout will be disastrous if it hits the headlines?
    Another matter of ethics involves a fundraising executive ignoring procurement procedures and making a preferred service provider very wealthy. There was also talk of kick-backs and holidays in the mountains but it’s doubtful this will gain media attention because of who they are!
    While many of the large NPOs continue to exceed fundraising goals (they have sufficient staff and are adept at marketing and communication) the broad base of NPOs will not experience a great deal of increased donations. At the last count over 133 000 NPOs were registered with the Department of Social Development. Ten thousand signed-up over the last six months, an unprecedented rise which could soon collapse into chaos. The NPO Arbitration Panel is now in place and will soon address appeals against de-registration. Last year it was revealed that only 19 percent of registered organisations complied with the NPO Act, so we can expect the Auto-De-register button to go crazy again. Get your reports in today.
    Legislative changes that will affect the sector this year will include; 
    • Amendments to the NPO Act of 1997 will definitely be presented to parliament this year, providing politicians stop lambasting one another and get on with running the country.
    • b) New and exciting changes to the National Lottery Act of 1997 will also come into effect, most of it all good stuff except for a new regulation proposing that ‘an agent, representative or conduit’ will be entitled to take a five percent slice of an awarded grant. Will South Africa will be the first to legislate and sanction commission-based fundraising. Boo! So-called ‘agents’ are already infiltrating desperate community based organisation with promises of access to government grants and lottery money if they are registered NPOs. It’s a big scam.
    • c) The introduction of The Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act enacted by the President 2 years ago, full implications of privacy compliance still has to be grasped by the NPO sector. A new dawn in data management has arrived for NPOs.
    In a nutshell; 
    • Keep your donors close and show appreciation, say Please and Thank You!
    • Don’t misbehave and hit the headlines, stay out of trouble.
    • Online donors will renew offline so revert to traditional methods like direct mail, email and the telephone for renewals.
    • Constantly seek new sources of support.
    • Try new ways to raise funds but wise-up and be tech savvy.
    • Keep an eye on changes in legislation and make sure you comply.
    - Prepared by Ann Bown of Charisma Consulting. Bown is president of the Southern Africa Institute of Fundraising and is a financial sustainability adviser and trainer to the non-profit sector. 
    Ann Bown
  • Malawi Hardest Hit by Floods

    Doctors without Borders (MSF) in Malawi say the south of the country has been hit hardest by the recent floods that displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
    MSF’s Amaury Gregoire, points out that, “We are very concerned because there are still pockets of people that have no access except by helicopter.”
    Gregoire states that the relief is being organised around the camps and MSF is going to develop strategies to access the people that are in the communities that are more difficult to access.
    Meanwhile, President, Peter Mutharika, has declared 15 of 28 national districts disaster zones, calling on the international community for assistance.
    To read the article titled, “South of Malawi hit hardest by floods: Doctors without Borders,” click here.

    SABC News
  • Global Inequality is 'Staggering' – Oxfam

    Oxfam says wealth accumulated by the richest one percent will exceed that of the other 99 percent in 2016.
    Speaking head of the annual meeting of the world's most powerful at Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam executive director, Winnie Byanyima, points out that, “The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast.”
    It says the richest one percent's share of global wealth increased from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014, adding that it will be more that 50 percent in 2016.
    To read the article titled, “Global inequality is 'staggering',” click here.

    IOL News
  • JSPA Adds Voice Against e-Toll Report

    Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) says the Gauteng e-toll review panel's report fails to include some of the alternative recommendations they raised.
    JPSA chairperson, Howard Dembovsky, says the fuel levy could have settled the South African National Roads Agency Limited’s debt it incurred for building roads quicker, than imposing e-tolls.
    Meanwhile another organisation, the Opposition To Urban Tolling Alliance, says the Gauteng e-toll review panel's report that was released fails to acknowledge that a fuel levy is the best alternative to the much criticised electronic tolling system.
    To read the article titled, “JSPA adds voice against e-toll review report,” click here.

    SABC News
  • Hate Speech Ahead of Zambian Election

    President of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) monitoring Zambia’s election, Lewis Mwape, says his organisation has noted with concern increasing levels of hate speech among several political leaders.

    Mwape states that tribal talk and branding of political competitors is retrogressive and does not only deter democracy but also threatens national security.

    He says the council has also observed that ambitious promises have heightened in the campaigns.

    To read the article titled, “Hate speech worry monitors,” click here.

    Daily Mail
  • YALI Criticises NGOs Political Stance

    The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has expressed concern that some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Zambia are getting involved in partisan politics and active campaigns for political candidates.

    YALI governance advisor, Isaac Mwanza, says even if he believes in the right of NGOs to be critical of government and politicians, he also believes that civil society organisations must avoid the temptation of engaging in active partisan politics that favour one candidate against another.

    Mwanza states that YALI will not join in campaigns aimed at undermining any candidate in Zambia’s electoral process irrespective of the fact that they may hold views that are different from those being championed by presidential candidates.

    To read the article titled, “YALI disappointed with NGOs political stance,” click here.

    UK Zambians
  • Eskom Blamed for Electricity Problems

    Earthlife Africa Johannesburg has criticised Eskom for failing to apologise to South Africans for the ongoing electricity problems when it held a press briefing on Thursday, 15 January 2015.

    The group’s energy policy officer, Dominique Doyle, points out that, "The closest the public came to an apology is chief executive officer, Tshediso Matona, stating that Eskom is now opting to do the right thing, thereby acknowledging that Eskom has been doing the wrong thing."

    Doyle argues that instead of apologising, the power utility transferred the blame to the public by threatening higher electricity tariffs and to cut off indebted communities.

    To read the article titled, “Eskom shifts blame to public, says body,” click here.

    Fin 24
  • HSF Challenges Dramat’s Suspension

    The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) has launched an urgent application in the High Court in Pretoria to overturn the suspension of the Hawks head, Anwar Dramat.

    HSF executive director, Francis Antonie, says the organisation is acting in terms of its mandate to protect the Constitution and the country's democracy.

    Antonie explains: “We can't let this go without challenging it, because the basis of our challenge is that the Minister acted unlawfully because the Minister may only suspend the director of the Hawks if he had already taken into account Parliament's views on this matter and he hasn't done so because Parliament is in recess.”

    To read the article titled, “Foundation pushes to overturn Hawks boss suspension,” click here.

    SABC News
  • Is CSI Spend Making Any Difference?

    It is becoming customary for those working in the social investment sector to raise, or to be asked, this question: “Billions of rands have been spent over the past decade, but what difference has this made?”

    It is not surprising that, 20 years into our young democracy, people are restless, having hoped for more significant transformational change that would address the legacies of an inequitable educational system, huge social inequality and the alarming youth unemployment rate – or ‘neets’ (not in employment, education or training), as these young people are now referred to.

    But this comment always leaves me restless and annoyed. Partly because of my upbringing, when we were taught that you need to look at the glass half-full and not half-empty, that there is always something good to come out of a bad situation and that every cloud has a silver lining.

    It gives no credit to the nonprofit sector, which has continued to contribute in countless ways to the country’s social and economic development, and disregards the significant contribution made by the corporate sector pre-dating any legislation that compelled it to do so.

    It negates the partnerships that have been forged between business and the government, which are working to build schools, clinics, upskill teachers, provide anti-retrovirals, preserve our heritage and care for the most vulnerable in our society, to name but a few efforts.

    However, it would be foolish simply to disregard the statement, especially given the number of people who express this view. Getting to the heart of ‘have we made a difference?’ requires reflection and perhaps a rethink of how we verbalise our concern for the future.

    As is the case with any for-profit business investing in new initiatives, it would be correct to say that not all social investment funding has yielded handsome dividends or changed the lives of people in a profound or positive way. In fact, a lot of money has been spent on social investment initiatives - be it by corporates or charitable trusts - that has been ill-considered and at times driven by marketing or legislative requirements rather than developmental agendas.

    We also know of bogus nonprofits that prey off the misfortune of those in need, and well-regarded celebrity philanthropists who pump money into initiatives for their own needs. These strengthen the agenda of anti-corporate or anti-philanthropic social investment campaigners who believe that individualised investments are ineffective and that pooling all social investment funding into one big pot would be far ‘better’.

    For example, the Department of Social Development has in the past mooted the idea of pooling and managing corporate social investment (CSI) funding for the benefit of the most vulnerable in society. If the belief is that pooled funding managed by the government is the answer, then we have truly missed the boat.

    Money is not the problem, rather it is how we go about deciding what to support, how we go about this, what outcomes we envisage, how we monitor and evaluate progress, and whether the capacity exists to achieve this.

    Social investments managed by private companies and foundations have the ability to respond swiftly, especially during times of crisis, to ensure that funding reaches those in most need and to hold people accountable for these investments.

    During recent weeks alone, emergency funding has been provided by corporates to a number of nonprofit organisations that care for children and adults with profound disabilities. Sadly, many of these organisations receive little if any funding from the Department of Social Development or other government entities.

    These marginalised organisations that care for the most vulnerable people need support now more than ever before and are to be commended for operating in the most adverse circumstances. Anyone that believes that this funding is not making a difference needs to spend a couple of hours at any of these organisations to appreciate the impact they have.

    It could be argued that these efforts are just hand-outs, that this type of investment is not systemic and is not getting to the root of the cause, and that if you calculate the social return on investment formula it does not provide a compelling business case for investors or other stakeholders. However, tell that to a child who does not know where the next meal will come from, or a bed-ridden and terminally ill patient who needs the care of a community-based health worker to change nappies, to feed him/her and tend to bed sores.

    Yes, this does pull at the heart strings, but we are talking about real people, who desperately need the ongoing support of funders, be it corporates, charitable trusts or the government. The sad reality is that these welfare or charitable organisations are being marginalised by funders who feel constrained rather to support initiatives that are aligned to the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) codes.

    While I agree that we do need to invest wisely to create real jobs that promote economic development, especially for our youth, I do wonder how we can really build a great nation if all the other spheres of development are neglected. We know that from conception nutrition is a key determinate of a child’s development, that the provision of basic health services is a human right, that the care and protection of children and women who are the victims of physical and sexual abuse cannot be left to the government alone to deal with effectively due to capacity constraints, and that we cannot aspire to be a world-class nation if we neglect the promotion of the arts, the sciences and our rich and diverse heritage. 

    Individual funders play a vital role in building the fabric of our society and should continue to do so. However, my aversion to the idea of mass pooled funding should not be confused with the need for funders to collaborate and develop partnerships in areas of mutual interest. 

    There are numerous examples of corporates and other funders that have a shared vision and collaborate in order to leverage funding, share lessons learnt and look to improve the way we support the social and economic needs of our country. This is particularly prevalent in the education sector.

    Funders are now more open to the idea of joint funding partnerships, supporting flagships projects that can potentially be taken to scale and that work in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education. However, there are no quick fixes and the outcome of these interventions will probably only be felt in a decade or so.

    It is vital that funders continue to support educational interventions that do work, where there is evidence of an improvement in teaching and educational outcomes, and that these positive changes are celebrated. Funders also need the courage to withdraw funding, in a responsible way, from long-term nonprofit organisations that, despite good intentions, are not able to provide evidence of educational improvements.

    So can we categorically state that billions of rands have been wasted over the past decade? Indeed not! Some investments have been wasteful, some investments have been squandered or misappropriated, and some investments have been hampered by poor management, changes in policies and the withdrawal of operational funding.

    But do not negate the fact that the private and nonprofit sector have lead numerous successful campaigns to ensure, among others, the provision of anti-retrovirals, pioneered models for the care of orphaned and vulnerable children, supported thousands of amazing young people who would otherwise not have been given the opportunity to further their studies and in so doing contributed to the economy of the country and the families they support, not to mention the funding provided to hundreds of medical professionals and primary health care workers who work to strengthen the public health sector.

    As we start 2015, it is a good time to reflect on what we have achieved in the previous year and what we need to improve on in the social investment sector, but also the conversations we want to engage on about new opportunities that will contribute towards a thriving South Africa in which all its people will flourish in time to come.
    • Tracey Henry is the chief executive of Tshikululu Social Investments (TSI), and a member of the judging panel of the Mail & Guardian Investing in the Future and Southern Africa Trust Drivers of Change award. This article first appeared on the TSI website.
    Tracey Henry
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