New Code of Governance for Non-profits

After two years of extensive consultation with hundreds of organisations and individuals across the country, The ‘Independent Code of Governance for Non-profit Organisations in South Africa’ is ready to be formally adopted by the civil society sector.  

The Independent Code will be launched at civil society events in Johannesburg on 25 July 2012 and in Cape Town on 27 July 2012. The code is the first of its kind to be collectively and communally developed by nonprofits themselves, and the first that can be applied to the entire sector of around 150 000 organisations, regardless of size, capacity and purpose.  

The process of formulating an independent code was initiated in August 2010 following widespread recognition of the need for South African nonprofit organisations (NPOs) to adopt their own distinct code rather than be regulated by government or corporate sector codes like King III devised under the auspices of the Institute of Directors.

Inyathelo executive director, Shelagh Gastrow, was part of the Working Group elected and mandated two years ago to draft the NPO Code. She says the large and diverse nonprofit sector in South Africa needed a code that reflected its unique values and principles. “NPOs are a special kind of institution in that they exist primarily to serve the common good and are not motivated or driven by profit-making or self-benefit. Some of the King III principles are completely impractical, unaffordable and unattainable for many nonprofits, and they do not accommodate the distinct principles, values and accountability requirements which go beyond those of the corporate sector,” insists Gastrow.

The 18-page Code of Governance outlines eight 'values' which are of special relevance and concern to the NPO sector, as well as six key leadership principles, and five statutory legal and fiscal principles. Jimmy Gotyana, Working Group member and President of the South African NGO Coalition SANGOCO, says compliance will be aspirational and supportive rather than prescriptive. “Although the Code doesn’t yet have any official or legal status, it is widely supported by the donor community and the sector itself. It brings together views and inputs from previous documents, including the SANGOCO Code of Conduct and Ethics,” explains Gotyana.

NPOs can subscribe by signing the commitment and undertaking to support the values and principles outlined in the Code. The Working Group will keep a register of subscribers and those organisations who sign up will be issued with a special logo or identity stamp to display as a show of support. Colleen du Toit, chief executive officer of Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa - CAF-SA, says signing up to the Code represents a unique opportunity for the NPO community to publicly recommit themselves to certain core values and principles, including fidelity to purpose, democracy, transparency and accountability. “The Code will guide Boards and governing bodies on issues such as conflicts of interest and self-dealing as well as the responsibilities to ensure that resources are spent appropriately and in the public interest. There is also a section which affirms the independence and need for impartiality of NPOs,” explains du Toit.

Chief executive officer of the Uthungulu Community Foundation, Chris Mkhize, says the Working Group want to encourage the widest possible support for the Code. “Civil society has collectively created this benchmark for good governance in South Africa. We are confident that it will help our sector to become more effective and continue to earn well-deserved donor support and public confidence,” says Mkhize.

Click here to download 'The Independent Code of Governance for Non-profit Organisations in South Africa.'

Click here to download the invite to the launch of The Independent Code in Johannesburg on 25 July 2012.

Click here to download the invite to the launch of The Independent Code in Cape Town on 27 July 2012.

The Working Group was nominated at a Civil Society Consultative Forum held in August 2010, and includes Chris Mkhize (Chief Executive Officer, Uthungulu Community Foundation); Shelagh Gastrow (Executive Director, Inyathelo - The South African Institute of Advancement); Colleen du Toit (Chief Executive Officer, Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa - CAF-SA); Jimmy Gotyana (President, South African National NGO Coalition - SANGOCO); Rajesh Latchman (National Co-ordinator, National Welfare, Social Service and Development Forum) and Richard Rosenthal as legal advisor (Richard Rosenthal Attorneys).


For more information contact:

Shelagh Gastrow
Executive Director
Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement
Mobile: 082 494 2996

Colleen du Toit
Chief Executive Officer
Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa - CAF-SA
Mobile: 083 646 8469

Chris Mkhize
Chief Executive Officer
Uthungulu Community Foundation
Mobile: 082 692 6405

Jimmy Gotyana
South African National NGO Coalition - SANGOCO
Mobile: 073 615 7665

Sarah Nicklin
Media, Communications, Information and Resources Manager
Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement
Mobile: 073 150 9525

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Date published: 
Wednesday, 25 July, 2012
Working Group for Nonprofit Governance in South Africa, Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement

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