20 March 2006
Last week, two law firms received high-praise for opening up Pro-Bono Offices to provide access to justice to individuals who can not afford legal services. NPC wishes to commend this spirit of giving which underpins our most fundamental human rights. Spreading access to justice beyond individuals to Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) is another initiative that is underway by The Non-Profit Consortium (NPC).
In July last year the NPC was ecstatic to receive official notification from the Cape Law Society to operate as a Pro-bono referral Structure. This means that it would be able to refer NPOs to Cape Town based attorneys who have to provide 24 hours of pro-bono work per annum.
NPC’s Executive Director, Tracy Fortune says, “We are delighted that more and more law firms are providing assistance to individuals. We commend the Cape Law Society for their embracing this initiative to extend their pro-bono work to not only individuals but also to NPOs who are assisting many poor communities in South Africa. Many NPO’s have limited funding for administrative costs and have to resort to strategies of low pay, make do or doing without, which may result in legislative non-compliance and high-risk and ultimately which diminishes organisational effectiveness. The NPC sees this as an innovative way to increase resources to the non-profit sector. We hope to use this as a pilot and then approach other professional bodies such as accountants and auditors to strengthen the operational effectiveness of NPOs in their efforts for poverty alleviation.”
NPC with the Cape Law Society is fervently exploring efficient mechanisms for implementing the Pro-bono Referral Structure to assist as many NPOs. It is hoped that this system will be able to be replicated in other provinces.
Moreover, several law firms have approached the NPC for more information on how to assist NPOs in certain matters around non-profit law - a field of law, not widely practiced by South African attorneys. To encourage the practice of non-profit law amongst legal professionals, NPC has developed a module in non-profit law for universities and law clinics.
In October 2005, NPC presented a course on non-profit law at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), as a component of a final year LLB course on Legal Process. The course covered issues such as setting up non-profit entities and non-profit tax law. The approximately 32 students, who attended the course, also undertake a number of hours practical work per week at the UWC Legal Aid Clinic. The training provided by NPC will enable them to provide basic legal services to NPOs.
In an effort to assist Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs), in particular community based organisations (CBOs) that require free legal advice around registering a non-profit, assistance with tax applications and various other legal procedures will be able to receive free legal advice and assistance from attorneys in the Western Cape.
About us: The Non-Profit Consortium (NPC) works to help non-profit organisations (NPOs), build strong, healthy and safe communities for all South Africans. NPC achieves this by strengthening the capacity of NPOs to effectively manage their resources and relationships with donors and partners. We provide training, conduct research, engage in legislative reform and facilitate a support services network to build the organisational and institutional capacity of organisations to deliver vital social services and products on issues such as HIV/AIDS, housing, unemployment, education, crime, gender inequality, environmental conservation and many other pressing concerns.
Should you wish to comment or require further information about NPC, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us at 021-422-3413. Media Enquiries can be directed to Communications Manager: Michelle Thulkanam at 082 4111 442.