National Welfare Forum
In the past few weeks several developments have shaken and stirred the NGO sector and government into action on the funding crisis facing NGOs in South Africa. After a long process a Johannesburg based collective of NGOs released a report on the state of civil society funding which proved to be interesting reading as it actually proposed some great ideas about how we can improve the functioning of state funding agencies like the National Lottery and the National Development Agency (NDA).
Hot on the heels of the release of the report, the Department of Social Development (DoSD) hosted a summit for NGOs in Kempton Park last week where every government official reiterated the need for open and robust dialogue between government and civil society about building a better country. Even president Zuma publicly announced that the “…doors of government must be open to civil society…” – a big shift from the usual tense and standoffish relationship between NGOs and government of the past few years.
In short, the three days of the DoSD NGO Summit were characterised by hard arguments from both sides – government officials saying that there was freedom to criticise their performance but they were also looking for positive ideas and plans to fix the problems. Not surprisingly a key issue throughout the three days of deliberations was the issue of funding – who was getting it, who was not and how to make sure more NGOs received the funding they needed to keep social service delivery on track. This however merely highlighted the other bugbear for the sector and government, which is the lack of reliable data on the NGO sector in Mzansi…of course, Stats SA did come in for some criticism for their lack of data collection in what is one of the larger employment sectors in South Africa but there was consensus that it would be simpler, better and faster for the NGO sector to just gather and share their own data with government.
These outcomes are timely indeed and it is in this spirit that we are pleased to announce the launch of the first sector-wide online survey for NGOs in South Africa. This is just the first, broad strokes survey about NGOs in SA. Who is doing what kinds of work? Where are services being delivered? To who are these services being delivered? How much do these services cost and who is funding this at the moment? Once we have this basic information, we can look at how to collate and take this forward with the key government departments.
We are also keen for NGOs to volunteer their luminaries to act as a reference group for the development of future iterations of the surveys, work with us in engagements with government and essentially help rebuild a vibrant NGO sector in SA. Another key question that arose in the DoSD summit was the lack of a national network of networks for NGOs and while this question is not in the survey, we are keen to hear your views of such a movement as well. Drop us an email on email@example.com to share your mind about how we can do this, who should be involved and what will such a coalition mean and do for us?
So, click on the link, complete the survey and get involved in fixing this situation… https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TKNN9RN
Chairperson: National Welfare Forum
CEO: Nelson Mandela Metro Community Chest