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is an
a framework document introducing nGOs in south africa
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 3   Introduction

 3   Background

 5   Definition of NGOs

 6   Description of NGOs and programme areas

 7   Terminology

 8   What is an NPO?

 9   NGOs in South Africa

17   Establishing the credentials of an NGO

19   Engaging with an NGO

20   Regional summary

23   Resources and Links
In order to understand what an NGO is, we have created a set of resources to help you
navigate	through	the	complex	and	variable	environments	that	define	these	organisations.	
The objective is to provide a concise and functional introduction to NGOs that operate
within South Africa.
  Here you’ll find various presentations that you can engage with at whatever level you
choose. This document forms part of a white paper, a Power Point presentation and an
online presentation.

In	the	global	development	context	the	United	Nations	Development	Programme	(UNDP)	
in 2000 adopted eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be achieved by 2015.

They are:
Goal	1:	Eradicate	extreme	poverty	and	hunger		 	
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Global Partnership for Development-MDG 8, is essential for the attainment of the other
seven	MDGs.	Recommended	partners	include:	Governments,	UN	Agencies,	international	
financial	institutions,	bi-lateral	agencies,	private	and	civil	society.	The	UNDP	uses	its	global	
presence	to	bring	together	partners	from	many	different	backgrounds	to	share	expertise,	
launch joint ventures, and develop long term solutions.
  In 2008 the MDG Gap Task Force reported that while there has been progress on several
counts, important gaps remain in delivering on the global commitments in the areas of
aid, trade, debt relief, access to new technologies and affordable essential medicines,
especially in developing countries. The weakening of the world economy and the steep
rises in food and energy prices threaten to reverse some of the progress made in the
various dimensions of human development. Strengthened global partnerships are needed
to avoid any reversal of progress made thus far. A further detail is that in Sub Saharan

   countries the gap is the biggest and to achieve the 2015 targets it has been recommended
   that stronger partnerships are created; between developed and developing countries,
   among developing countries themselves, and with the active involvement of the private
     As a result there are a range of new players and institutional formations in the
   development arena with the partnerships happening across the public, private and civil
   society sectors. More recently we have seen the advent of significant local, national and
   global Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and greater linkups between similar NGOs
   to form consortia to deliver on government tenders for development service delivery.
   The private sector is increasingly being pulled out of its profiteering mode and sees
                                                          the value of supporting initiatives for
                                                          poverty alleviation and development
                                                          as healthy development promotes
Social Entrepreneurship                                   a vibrant market which in turn
                                                          promotes sales and sustainable
is also on the rise in the                                growth. Social entrepreneurship is on
                                                          the rise in the form of consultancies
form of consultancies and                                 and individuals who work within this
                                                          developmental agenda. Frequently

individuals who work within                               helping unfamiliar partners manage
                                                          projects, programmes and helping

this developmental agenda.                                them get to know each other better.
                                                             	 In	 this	 context	 NGOs	 have	 been	

Frequently helping unfamiliar                             identified as an important grouping
                                                          within civil society whose collective

partners manage projects,                                 agency is responsible for significant
                                                          development. NGOs provide the link

programmes and helping them                               to the communities and the people
                                                          who may not have a voice. They

get to know each other better.                            provide mechanisms to test new ways
                                                          of doing things without placing the
                                                          whole	 system	 at	 risk.	 Their	 flexibility	
                                                          and innovation act to support and
   encourage	pluralism	and	diversity	which	in	turn	challenge	stasis	and	inflexibility	which	are	
   often reactive responses by overburdened state structures. Therefore it is fast becoming
   an imperative to get to know them better.
     However,	 for	 the	 uninitiated,	 NGOs	 exist	 in	 an	 intricate	 and	 sometimes	 confusing	
   matrix,	we	hope	with	this	document	to	provide	insight	and	understanding	of	how	these	
   organisations	exist	and	operate	in	South	Africa.

Definition of NGOs
Non-government organisations                   – or NGOs as they are commonly known –
perform	a	range	of	functions	in	civil	society	and	are	by	definition	non-commercial.	They	exist	
to service needs that are not provided for by the government and commercial sectors.

Working definition
A non-governmental organisation (NGO) is a formalised, non-profit group which has been
created outside of government to address particular issues, tasks or functions of a non-
commercial nature. Such groups may be organised at a local, national or international
level. They are dedicated to serving a particular function and are driven by people with a
common interest in addressing these issues.
  NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions. These can include lobbying
for particular causes, advocating and monitoring government policies and encouraging
political participation through the provision of information. Some are organised around
specific issues, such as human rights, animal rights, environment or health. They provide
analysis	 and	 expertise,	 serve	 as	 early	 warning	 mechanisms	 and	 help	 to	 monitor	 and	
implement international agreements.
  The phrase non-governmental organisation came into use with the establishment of
the	United	Nations	in	1945	which	specified	a	consultative	role	for	organisations	that	are	
neither governments nor member states.

Description of NGOs and
programme areas
NGOs fulfill a range of functions including development assistance, emergency relief, social
and health services. In addition, some organisations in this category represent special
interest groups, such as craft guilds, chambers of commerce, professional associations,
recreational clubs, youth associations, environmental groups and trade unions.

NGOs come in many different shapes and sizes, and they
have a variety of programme areas such as

•	 Advocacy	and	awareness	around	              •	   Gender	matters
   particular issues                           •	   Health
•	 Access	to	justice                           •	   HIV/AIDS
•	 Access	to	land                              •	   Housing
•	 Adult	basic	education                       •	   Human	rights
•	 Animal	rights                               •	   Infrastructure	development
•	 Child	welfare                               •	   Media	and	communications
•	 Community	development                       •	   Monitoring	and	evaluation
•	 Community	training	and	capacity	            •	   Networks
   building                                    •	   Participatory	democracy
•	 Conflict	resolution                         •	   Philanthropic	intermediaries	and	
•	 Crime	prevention	and	rehabilitation              promoting voluntary activities
•	 Culture	and	recreation                      •	   Rural	development
•	 Economic	development                        •	   Social	services
•	 Entrepreneurship                            •	   Job	training	and	career	guidance
•	 Environment                                 •	   Counselling,	therapy	and	psycho-social	
•	 Formal	education	and	research                    rehabilitation

                             Within these areas there are clusters of NGOs that have very
                             different organisational cultures and competencies. For example, the
                             TAC (Treatment Action Campaign) is a highly evolved lobbying and
                             advocacy group that operates at a national level working towards
                             getting the state to take responsibility for providing access to ARVs
                             for people living with HIV/AIDS. Also within this cluster are a range
                             of NGOs that have developed as direct responses to the HIV/AIDS
                             epidemic such as home based care programmes, orphanages, NGOs
                             that support grandmothers supporting orphaned grandchildren
                             (GOGO Project). They may have been created by individuals who
                             only have their intentions and feet as resources whereas others may
                             be working with professionals, international funding and a detailed
                             knowledge of ICT. Therefore it is important to consider each of them
                             according to their specific requirements at whatever level they
                             are operating as their levels of ICT use and competence may vary
                             dramatically and their ICT needs are likely to be specific.

Let’s	explain	the	terminology:

•	 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs): a broad description of organised groups that are made
   up	of	NGOs,	CBOs,	FBOs	and	Trade	Unions.
•	 NGO:	A	Non-Governmental	Organisation	can	exist	in	various	legal	forms,	including	a	
   Voluntary Association, Section 21 Company (South Africa) or a Trust.
•	 CBO: Community Based Organisations include among others youth groups, sports
   clubs and rate payers associations. These are membership-based and members
   usually pay a fee to belong to them. Funding comes mainly from community fund
   raising efforts, ‘gifted’ (donated) infrastructure and volunteer efforts.
•	 FBO: Faith Based Organisations is used to describe organisations that are religious
   in nature and distinct from those that are government, public or private secular
•	 PPP: Public Private Partnership. This describes a partnership made up between the
   government and private sector often involving NGOs.
•	 SETA: Sector Education and Training Agency. An organisational form that has been set

    up by the government to provide sectoral Education and Training facilities that oversee
    standard setting and registration of Education and Training Service Providers within
    each of the sectors.
 •	 SEDA: Small Enterprise Development Agency. This development agency is also an
    initiative of the government (Department of Trade and Industry) that works to support
    small enterprises. It is in essence a government agency that carries out the work of the
    government but is organisationally separated. It has multi-stream funding support and
    so it is publicly directed (by law) however has funding from the government, private
    and civil society (especially donor agencies). It is a hybrid institutional form that sits
    somewhere in between the public and private sectors providing a direct service for the
    government’s development programme.

       SEDA type agencies are on the increase. They provide a service
       that is developmental, directed by government policies and funded,
       to a degree by government but have organisational autonomy. This
       allows for greater flexibility in terms of service provision using tender
       processes and engaging with private institutions and NGOs, in the
       kind of Public Private Partnership (PPP) that is advocated by the MDG
       8 (see discussion in background section, page 4).

 What is an NPO?
 The terms NGO and NPO are often used interchangeably and sometimes incorrectly
 because	there	is	a	difference	between	the	two	in	legal	terms.	In	South	Africa	for	example,	
 once an NGO has been officially formed it can apply to the NPO Directorate within the
 National Department of Social Development to be registered as an NPO under the Non-
 Profit Organisations Act No 71 of 1997. An NPO number is assigned to it to signify that
 the organisation conforms to the appropriate legal requirements.
   A non-profit organisation can be incorporated as a trust, a company or any other
 formalised association. This entity is firstly established to serve the public in some manner
 and secondly any income or property it owns cannot be transferred to its members or
 office	bearers	except	where	they	are	paid	for	the	work	that	they	do.

 Organisations that can apply for NPO status include NGOs, CBOs (community
based organisations), FBOs (faith based organisations) or trade unions that are formally
constituted or have any other founding document.

Why is NPO registration important?
Acquiring NPO status for an NGO is a significant qualification because it gives potential
donors some assurances:
•	 Improves	the	credibility	of	the	organisation	because	as	an	NPO	it	is	accountable	to	a	
   government body;
•	 Gives	the	organisation	a	formal	definition;
•	 Helps	to	set	and	maintain	standards	of	governance,	accountability	and	transparency;
•	 Provides	benefits	such	as	tax	incentives	and	funding	opportunities.

                                        You can check the NPO status of an organisation by visiting the
                                        NPO directorate section on the National Social Development
                                        Department website at
                                        It allows you to search for organisations by name and registration

NGOs in South Africa
Historical context
Throughout South Africa’s development history, successive governments have decided
that the country is not a welfare state. This means that when someone is in need, it
is	 expected	 that	 the	 family	 or	 the	 community	 should	 help.	 The	 State	 will	 only	 become	
involved if help cannot be given privately. Due to this there has always been a call for
individuals	to	show	a	spirit	of	‘Ubuntu’	and	philanthropic	concern.	
  Before the 19th Century - there were no organised welfare services. Families looked
after their own needs. In 1916 a national conference recommended the coordination
of private welfare services. The late 1920s saw the beginning of a number of National

   Welfare Councils. Before World War II “The Carnegie Poor White Investigation” report,
   recommended the creation of a State Bureau of Social Welfare, to coordinate the welfare
   activities of state departments in cooperation with voluntary organisations and the
   churches. A Department of Social Welfare was established in 1937.
     As a result of the active public fundraising that took place during World War II it was felt
   that some control of the public collections needed to be introduced. This gave rise to the
   Welfare Organisations Act No. 40 of 1947. With the issuing of the National Welfare Act 79
   of 1975, national and regional welfare boards came into being. Several commissions of
   enquiry followed, including the Van Rooyen Commission of Inquiry into the Collection of
   Voluntary Financial Contributions from the Public and out of their recommendations came
   the Fundraising Act No 107 of 1978.
                                                                   Most community projects
                                                                 were carried out by religious
In the past government often                                     groups during the mid 1950s
                                                                 but this started to shift and
influenced the idea of corporate                                 change around the late 1970s
                                                                 when NGOs and CBOs
citizenship but this has changed;                                started to form and address
                                                                 social imbalances. A huge
NGOs are becoming essential                                      growth in the sector occurred
                                                                 between the early 1980s and
partners in the delivery of products                             1994 – mainly due to the flow
                                                                 of foreign funding and local
and services to the private sector                               efforts in fundraising for good

and indeed on behalf of the state.                                 Over the past 10 years
                                                                 there have been major shifts
                                                                 and changes both, in ratio-
   nalisation by government of service delivery and the legislation controlling and regulating
   NGOs. Subsequently the role of NGOs has begun to influence the way business is done,
   especially with regards to corporate social responsibility (CSR). In the past government
   often influenced the idea of corporate citizenship but this has changed; NGOs are
   becoming essential partners in the delivery of products and services to the private sector
   and indeed on behalf of the state. Linked to this is the creation of a range of development
   agencies that operate in a collaborative way between the Public and Private sectors (see
   explanation	and	note	about	SEDA	on	page	8).
     The ANC-led government still has in its ranks a range of NGO activists who become
   political leaders and so social development/welfare is high on this government’s agenda.
   However in the light of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the worsening state of the world’s

economy NGOs are often filling the gaps of public service to communities; doing the work
government should be doing, or raising social issues that the government pretends don’t
exist.	They,	the	NGOs,	are	social	change	agents	and	work	in	many	areas	of	life.

NGO funding
In South Africa it is estimated that income generated through donations, grants, sales,
membership dues, fees for services (contracts/tenders with government and the private
sector)	plus	interest	on	investments	is	in	excess	of	R16	billion	per	annum	(US$2.3	billion).	
In 2007, R3 billion was contributed through corporate social investment. It is probable
that	more	than	2	million	people	volunteer	their	time,	talent	and	expertise	to	NGOs	annually,	
with an estimated worth of a further R5.1 billion in sweat equity.
  Donations or funding of
programmes can be provided
by either private parties or
                                    ... it is probable that more than
government agencies. NGOs
generally do not make any
                                    2 million people volunteer their
distinction between govern-
ment funding (a significant
                                    time, talent and expertise to NGOs
source) and other funding.
  The	Income	Tax	Act	makes	
                                    annually, with an estimated worth of a
provisions for NPO organisa-
tions to become registered
                                    further R5.1 billion in sweat equity.
with the South African
Receiver of Revenue as Public Benefit Organisations (PBOs). This provides them with
certain	tax	exemptions.	Furthermore,	if	they	qualify	according	to	certain	criteria,	Section	
18	(A)	receipts	can	be	issued	to	donors,	affording	the	donors	with	limited	tax	exemption	
against the donations made.

Public Private Partnerships and
Development Agencies
Currently welfare service and social development activities in South Africa have, to a large
extent,	been	collaborative	undertakings	as	part	of	Public	Private	Partnerships.	Since	1994	
we have seen the creation of a range of institutional forms (mentioned in the background,

   page 4) such as groups of NGOs forming consortia to tender for specific service delivery,
   PPPs and the work of agencies that work together with national and local government
   structures, international donor agencies and local and national NGOs. They all work
   together in an attempt to address issues such as HIV and Aids, poverty, environmental
   programmes, housing and other pressing social needs as they arise.

   Millennium Development Goals in
   the South African Context
   The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) currently provide an overarching set of global
   challenges that progressive South African NGOs hold as objectives to mobilise around
   (described in the background section on page 3). The South African development agenda
   falls amongst the others of Sub Saharan African countries which are mentioned in the last
   MDG meeting (held in September 2008) report, as forming the epicentre of the escalating
   humanitarian crises due to poverty and conflict over scarce resources and ethnic feuding.
                                                                   This is further aggravated
In Africa 74 people out of 100 do                                  by the HIV/AIDS epidemic,
                                                                   climate changes and lack of
not have access to electricity.                                    infrastructural resources such
                                                                   as electricity, clean drinking
   water, roads and ICT. In Africa 74 people out of 100 do not have access to electricity.
     This first report of the Task Force highlights that there has been progress on many fronts,
   but the delivery on commitments has been deficient and has fallen behind schedule. A
   shared future for all will not be possible without globally concerted action and strong
   partnerships. At this midpoint in our work towards meeting the 2015 deadline, it is essential
   that all partners accelerate their efforts to deliver on the promises they have made.

       Some recommendations linked to MDG 8
       in particular are
       •	   Rapid	increase	in	coverage	of	population	with	access	to	mobile	phones
       •	   Work	at	reducing	the	digital	divide	in	internet	use
       •	   The	need	to	strengthen	the	global	partnership	for	access	to	new	technology
       •	   Strengthened	global	partnerships	
       •	   Urgent	responses	are	needed	to	bridge	the	existing	implementation	gaps	and	
            deliver on the promises to achieve the MDGs

Actions required to expand the access to technology for
development include
•	 Formulating	national	ICT	strategies	aligned	with	broader	development	strategies
•	 Introducing	 more	 flexibility	 in	 relation	 to	 Trade-Related	 Intellectual	 Property	 Rights	
   to accelerate the diffusion of technology for development to developing countries,
   including that related to renewable energy and adaptation to climate change
•	 Increasing	efforts	to	expand	both	basic	infrastructure	such	as	electricity	supply	and	
   ICT-facilitating infrastructure, especially in low-income countries
•	 Creating	incentives	for	the	private	sector	to	develop	technologies	relevant	to	people	in	
   low-income countries, including those that address issues of climate change adaptation
   and renewable energy
•	 Applying	 more	 widespread	 differential	 pricing	 practices	 to	 reduce	 the	 costs	 of	 key	
   technology in developing countries in order to make access affordable to all

In addition, Archbishop Ndungane of the Anglican Church Southern Africa recommends
six	steps	that	can	be	taken	by	African	civil	society	to	accelerate	the	continent’s	and	South	
Africa’s rate in meeting the MDGs:

      Six steps
      1. Intensify service delivery
      2. Become involved in policy process
      3. Advocate for better use of resources
      4. Monitor delivery of promises
      5. Mobilise voices of African CSOs
      6. Create solidarity with partners from the North and South

   Some relevant characteristics of, and
   challenges faced by the South African
   NGO Sector
   The NGO sector in South Africa is substantial and diversified, with huge differences
   between organisations, ranging across the organisational cultures, operational standards
   and resources.
     NGOs in South Africa operate in the following programme areas: Advocacy and
   awareness around particular issues, access to justice, access to land, adult basic
   education, animal rights, child welfare, community development, community training
   and capacity building, conflict resolution, crime prevention and rehabilitation, culture and
   recreation, economic development, entrepreneurship, environment, formal education
   and research, gender, health, HIV/AIDS, housing, human rights, infrastructure develop-
   ment, media and communications, monitoring and evaluation, networks, participatory
   democracy, philanthropic intermediaries and voluntarism promotion, rural development,
                                                                      social services, job training and
                                                                      career guidance, counselling,
                                                                      therapy and psycho-social
                                                                      rehabilitation (see bulleted list

SA NGOs rise and fall; a few last and                                 on page 6).
                                                                        In addition, similar NGOs often

provide consistent service delivery.                                  form collaborative networks
                                                                      that provide sector leadership

This rise and fall can be attributed                                  around      developing
                                                                      frameworks or acting collec-

                                                                      tively to engage government
to shifting social needs in a rapidly                                 around issues of concern.
                                                                        In South Africa they will
changing and stressed society.                                        include registered voluntary
                                                                      associations, section 21 com-
                                                                      panies and trusts. These run
                                                                      projects and programmes that
                                                                      positively impact social and
   economic policies and deliver necessary support services to those who need it the most
   – they feed, clothe, teach, create, guide, safeguard, accompany and facilitate.
     It	 is	 difficult	 to	 provide	 good	 statistics	 on	 how	 many	 NGOs	 exist	 in	 South	 Africa,	 it	
   is	 estimated	 that	 there	 are	 approximately	 120,000	 CSOs	 (Civil	 Society	 Organisations)	
   of which 37,000 are registered as NPOs, what proportion of these numbers are bona

fide NGOs is up for debate. What we know is that the NGO sector in South Africa ‘is
BIG’,	 cynically	 described	 by	 some	 as	 a	 ‘home	 for	 all’...	 ex-politicians,	 ex-government	
officials,	people	with	axes	to	grind,	messianic	zealots,	‘bleeding	hearts’,	begging	bowl	
subscribers, empire builders, DIY’ers and in the main, (those that last), some very
sophisticated, intelligent, functional, good hearted and passionate people who see a
gap and try to fill it.
  SA NGOs rise and fall; a few last and provide consistent service delivery. This rise and
fall can be attributed to shifting social needs in a rapidly changing and stressed society.

Some challenges that South African NGOs face
•	 There	is	a	high degree of burnout amongst the leadership of SA NGOs and some of the
   more sustainable NGOs consider having a succession strategy as an essential element
   in their long-term strategic plan.
•	 The	 “self-sustainability” level of NGOs tends to be low. Which, when considered does
   make sense if the activities are centred around welfare provisioning, as welfare activities
   tend to drain rather than generate resources.
•	 Most	NGOs	have	limited financial and management expertise. However amongst some
   of the more ‘established’ NGOs this is changing as the donor community has wised
   up and has introduced a range of checks and balances that provide an imperative for
   NGOs to acquire these competencies. Some are financially sound, but most operate
   in a precarious state of scarce funding, job insecurity and threadbare facilities.
•	 Many	NGOs lack inter-organisational communication and coordination and subsequently
   tackle their chosen causes without a clear understanding of the broader social and
   economic	context.
•	 Funding remains a challenge with some of the funds having been diverted to government
   operations as well as onerous monitoring and evaluation requirements of donors.
•	 Monitoring and evaluation - many lack the tools and understanding to measure and
   track effectively, and IT usage is not as sophisticated as a tool in this community.
•	 MDGs - as much as these have raised awareness and funding for NGOs, it has also
   introduced new players in the form of PPPs which can be seen as competition for
•	 Changing face of development - focus on sustainability. NGOs have long focused on a
   “non-business” approach and are increasingly asked to introduce more business like
•	 Distrust - history of distrust in SA NGO community in particular.
•	 Corruption - there has been a history of corruption in the NGO community in SA (and
   elsewhere). This is a stigma that some NGOs are still fighting.

 Strengths and advantages
 •	 Probably	 their	 most	 significant	 characteristic	 is	 their	 strong grass-roots support - and
    hence their ability to identify the problems of their constituents and then tailor assistance
    to meet their needs.
 •	 NGOs	work	in	the	field,	adapting	to	local	situations,	and	are able to develop integrated
    projects based on local needs.
 •	 They	 usually	 adopt	 a	 process-oriented approach toward development for which they
    use participatory methodologies and tools. In South Africa everyone is familiar with the
    work of HIV and Aids volunteer canvassers on ‘door to door’ campaigns – meeting
    their neighbours and breaking down the barriers to ensure affected families access
    local services.
 •	 They	are	able	to take on jobs that the government cannot.
 •	 They	 access resources in the community which are unavailable to the government
    structures, e.g. volunteers and sweat equity.
 •	 They provide links between established government programmes and civil society,
    religious, interest and philanthropist groups.
 •	 Provide	a	space that people with particular sub sets of skills are better accommodated
    outside of government structures.
 •	 In	bypassing government’s bureaucratic and restrictive regulation they can operate more
    effectively and efficiently.
 •	 Able	to	respond to needs in communities more rapidly.
 •	 There	exists	amongst	the	older	NGOs	enormous	bodies	of local knowledge that provide
    the sector with significant development intelligence and wisdom that know the local
    conditions and restrictions intimately.

                         The South African NGO
                         sector is vast and diverse,
                         and there is no short list
                         of all their advantages
                         and disadvantages.

Establishing the credentials
of an NGO
When you check the credentials of an NGO it is important to locate the organisation in
relation to the country’s legislation and regulation, the programme areas and/or sectors it
addresses and its levels of activity and service delivery.
  Bear	in	mind	that	this	context	varies	significantly	from	region	to	region	and	there	are	
many factors that determine what contributions and services an NGO provides.
  Prior to engaging with any NGO, we recommend a number of steps to be taken. You
should not take anything for granted and establish the organisation’s bone fides at every
turn. In this section you’ll find a checklist and a suggested way of approaching an NGO
to ensure that it can provide appropriate levels of accountability, response, sustainability
and developmental partnering.

Some critical questions that should be asked
•	   Is	the	organisation	properly	constituted?	Does	it	have	a	written	constitution?
•	   How	long	has	it	been	operating?
•	   Does	it	operate	according	to	its	stated	objectives?
•	   Does	it	operate	within	a	broader	network	of	similar	organisations?
•	   Who	do	they	partner	or	engage	with?
•	   Which	networks	do	they	belong	to?
•	   Who	are	the	board	members?
•	   Any	success	stories?
•	   Has	it	implemented	a	networked	response	to	a	social	need?	

     •	 Does	it	duplicate	the	services	of	other	organisations,	resulting	in	competition	for	scarce	
     •	 Does	it	have	good	democratic	governance	infrastructure?
     •	 Is	it	soundly	structured	as	an	organisation?
     •	 Is	it	registered	as	an	NPO	with	an	NPO	registration	number
     •	 Is	the	NPO	registration	current?	(Check	on	NPO	directorate	database and follow the links)
     •	 Is	there	good	financial	management	and	good	financial	reporting?
     •	 Can	you	easily	make	contact	with	the	organisation	head/leader/director,	chairperson	
        and financial officer?
     •	 Are	there	reliable	telecommunications	facilities	(telephone,	fax,	mobile/sms)?
     •	 Is	there	reliable	road,	postal	and	courier	access?	Sometimes	courier	services	are	used	
        instead	of	postal	services	–	this	is	more	expensive	but	also	more	secure	and	reliable.
     •	 What	 kind	 of	 security	 is	 there?	 –	 including	 social,	 property/work	 place	 and	 ICT	

                                                                 Is the NPO registration current?
                                                                 Check on NPO directorate database
                                                        and follow
                                                                 the links

     Some other questions that could be asked
     •	 Does	it	have	access	to	email	and/or	internet	facilities?	Access	to	internet	cafes	can	be	
     •	 Does	it	have	a	website	or	plans	for	a	website?
     •	 Does	it	have	a	well-established	public	profile?
     •	 Does	it	have	a	marketing	strategy?
     •	 Is	the	organisational	brand	well	established?

     Suggested actions and checklist before making first contact
     •	 Accessing	 public	 references,	 media	 or	 publications:	 Do	 search-engine	 research	 to	
        establish whether the organisation has a web presence;
     •	 Find	out	about	the	staff	and	board	members	involved;	do	search-engine	research	to	
        establish the leadership credentials of the individuals involved;
     •	 Establish	what	banking	and	financial	services	are	used	by	the	organisation;	

•	 What	access	and	communication	facilities	does	it	have	access	to	in	terms	of	language,	
   telephone, email and post;
•	 What	infrastructure	and	transport	resources	does	it	have:	how	easy	is	it	to	get	to,	
   what are the travel requirements (e.g. visas and health considerations distances,
   road conditions, transport services and accommodation) involved if you have to visit
   the site.

Engaging with an NGO
Once you are satisfied that a particular NGO is the ‘right one’ to engage, it is important
from the first to be open and allow the relationship to develop without too many initial
expectations.	A	patient	and	tolerant	attitude	will	go	a	long	way	to	finding	the	true	measure	
of	the	organisation’s	experience,	wisdom	and	potential	to	be	a	good	partner.	
  Working in the NGO environment can be tricky and the organisations that survive and
have competent and passionate leaders who are seasoned survivors, are familiar to
disappointment and having to reinvent the wheel over and over again.
  Initial resistance to significant engagement could be a good sign! Resistance can be an
undervalued indicator of integrity. These ‘good’ leaders are used to working in ‘muddy
waters’, like Gangetic dolphins (fresh water Ganges and Indus River dolphins) who are
virtually blind and live in muddy water, they are able to navigate through engagement
processes using other faculties, which might not be standard in the business world.

         Each partnership has a particular culture that needs to be developed and it is important
         to state upfront what your engagement agreements might be, for example this might

         •	 How	does	the	communication	happen	and	who,	within	the	NGO	is	in	charge	of	managing	
            the relationship and communication?
         •	 Staying	 within	 the	 agreed	 upon	 process-not	 changing	 the	 goal	 posts	 without	 proper	
         •	 Adequate	 notice	 for	 rescheduling	 meetings	 and	 deadlines-the	 culture	 around	 time	
            management can vary significantly between different organisations causing stress and
         •	 Who	is	invited	by	the	other	party	to	meetings?	How	is	it	negotiated	by	the	lead	partners?
         •	 At	 what	 point	 is	 it	 appropriate	 to	 introduce	 discussions	 around	 contracts,	 roles	 and	

    At the same time if you feel, early on, on an instinctual level that something is ‘not right’,
 don’t dismiss it and ensure that appropriate checks and balances are put in place. Write
 it down, keep records, report it to your colleagues and ensure that there is a space within
 the engagement process to report and air misgivings about processes and programmes.
 What	is	important	is	to	allow	the	partner	to	explain	or	contextualise	the	situation	without	
 it damaging the relationship as it develops in the early stages.
    Providing a space to negotiate around and air differences can go a long way to finding
 creative solutions and new ways of doing things thus enabling the partnership to harness
 and marry diverse skills and resources that benefit all parties and result in constructive
 and meaningful development.

 Regional Summary
 The	Southern	African	Development	Community	(SADC)	has	been	in	existence	since	1980,	
 when it was formed as a loose alliance of nine majority-ruled states in Southern Africa
 known as the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC). Its main
 aim was to coordinate development projects in order to lessen economic dependence on
 the then apartheid South Africa.
   The founding member states are: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique,
 Swaziland,	 United	 Republic	 of	 Tanzania,	 Zambia	 and	 Zimbabwe.	 SADCC	 was	 formed	
 in	Lusaka,	Zambia	on	1	April	1980,	following	the	adoption	of	the	Lusaka	Declaration	-	
 Southern Africa: Towards Economic Liberation.
   The transformation of the organisation from a Coordinating Conference into a
 Development Community (SADC) took place on 17 August 1992 in Windhoek, Namibia,
 when the Declaration and Treaty was signed at the Summit of Heads of State and
 Government thereby giving the organisation a legal character.
   The Member States are: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),
 Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South
 Africa,	Swaziland,	United	Republic	of	Tanzania,	Zambia	and	Zimbabwe.

                                                       The SADC headquarters
                                                       are located in Gaborone,

Country specific information
                                             Official                                      GDP per
Country        Capital        Currency                       Area (km2)     Population
                                             Language                                      capita
Angola         Luanda         Kwanza         Portuguese         1,246,700     15,941,000       $ 2,813
                                             English &
Botswana       Gaborone       Pula                               581,726       1,639,833      $ 11,400
DRC            Kinshasa                      French             2,344,858     63,655,000        $ 774
                                             South Sotho
Lesotho        Maseru         Loti                                30,355       1,795,000       $ 2,113
                                             & English
Madagascar     Antananarivo                  French &            587,041      18,606,000        $ 905
                              Malawian       English &
Malawi         Lilongwe                                          118,484      12,884,000        $ 596
                              kwacha         Chichewa
Mauritius      Port Louis                    French-de             2,040       1,219,220      $ 11,125
                                             facto (in
Mozambique     Maputo                        Portuguese          801,590      20,366,795       $ 1,389
Namibia        Windhoek                      English             825,418       2,031,000       $ 7,478
                              Seychellois    French,
Seychelles     Victoria                                              451         80,654       $ 11,818
                              rupee          Seychellois,
               Pretoria,                     Northern
                             South African
South Africa   Bloemfontein,                 Sotho,             1,221,037     47,432,000      $ 12,161
               Cape Town                     Sotho, Swati,
                                             Xhosa, Zulu
               Lobamba &                     English &
Swaziland                     Lilangeni                           17,364       1,032,000       $ 5,245
               Mbabane                       Swati
               Dar es
                              Tanzanian      Swahili &
Tanzania       Salaam &                                          945,087      37,849,133        $ 723
                              shilling       English
Zambia         Lusaka                        English             752,614      11,668,000        $ 931
Zimbabwe       Harare                        Ndebele &           390,757      13,010,000       $ 2,607

 Questions that need to be asked with regards
 to regional engagement
 •	 Access to internet connectivity: What	 kind	 of	 internet	 connectivity	 exists?	 Is	 it	 widely	
    accessible? How much does it cost?
 •	 Banking practice and funds transfer practice: How long do banks take to transfer money?
    What are the bank charges?
 •	 Telecommunications, road, postal and electricity (power surge protection and different types
    of supply) infrastructure: It is wise to check on these infrastructural resources as the
    standards can vary dramatically and can cause programme delays due to a lack of
    understanding of local conditions.

Resources and Links
•		 To	check	on	an	NGO’s	NPO	registration	status	go	to	and	follow	the	links
•	 South	African	NGO	Network	website:
•	 South	African	NGO	Coalition	(SANGOCO)	website:
•	 SANGOTech:	The	SANGOTeCH	online	technology	donation	and	discount	portal	is	a	partnership	
    between	SANGONeT	and	TechSoup,	the	San	Francisco-based	nonprofit	technology	capacity	
    building organisation, that links technology donations and the South African NGO sector: http://
•	 Prodder	Directory:	South	African	NGOs	&	Development	directory,	available	in	white	paper	and	
    online formats (see links
•	 Guide	to	the	Non	Profit	Act:
•	 The	International	Centre	for	Not-for-Profit	Law	(South	African	resources	link):
•	 MDG	Africa	Summary:
•	 MDG	Gap	Report	2008:
•	 Directory	of	Development	Organisations	(Resource	Guide	to	development	organisations	&	the	
•	 Non	profit	In	strategic	partnership	with	diversified	non	profit	services.	The	
    Development Gateway puts the Internet to work for developing countries. It provides innovative
    Internet	solutions	for	effective	aid	and	e-government	–	increasing	access	to	critical	information,	
    building local capacity and bringing partners together for positive change http://www.	
•	 An	academic	paper	on	the	question	of	what	is	an	NGO:
•	 Defining	the	Non	Profit	Sector:	Ghana
•	 NGO	Research	Guide,	African	NGOs	(sorted	by	country):
•	 NGO	research	guide,	list	of	NGO	activities:
•	 Directory	of	African	NGOs,	Third	Edition:	
•	 West	African	NGO	Network:
•	 A	Toolkit	for	African	NGOs	Document	3914_3917
•	 List	of	African	Countries	and	dependencies:
•	 NGO	Guide:	An	NGO	Training	Guide	for	Peace	Corps	Volunteers	-	The	Roles	of	NGOs	in	Civil	Society:


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