The future of NPOs could be brighter through generous spirit of partners and government initiatives
By Dr Jerry Gule
Many NPOs have shown themselves to be innovative, resilient and quick to respond to the pandemic and subsequent government regulations.
Through the hard lessons learnt by the organisations and the generous spirit of partners and government initiatives, such as the Solidarity Fund, the future of NPOs could be even brighter.
I believe in the importance of education in the fight against poverty, although I foresee that most funding, public and private, will go towards health care, to safeguard the economy against stringent lockdowns. It would be a mistake to overlook education. By investing in both we guarantee a more prosperous future for citizens. If we neglect education, particularly the first seven years, we will be dooming our country and communities to poverty, because education is a liberator and the benefits are long term.
I have identified strategies that the Love Trust has benefited from. Other NPOs can implement them, to survive the crisis and flourish. Besides investing in a good communications department, to aid the understanding of the investors and communities on the NPO’s mandate, instead of waiting for funding, like-minded NPOs need to collaborate and take the initiative.
By teaming up with other NPOs and sitting at the table with companies when they plan their corporate social investment strategies, NPOs will be able to provide more innovative, far-reaching, and meaningful programmes, meaning that companies can rest assured knowing that they are contributing to something transformative. This means NPOs will need to do their due diligence and not just pitch a standard package – one size does not fit all.
Another area where more can be done is an NPO’s budget and expenses: cutting wastage and seeing how funds can be stretched. This frees NPOs to focus on their main objectives when it comes to empowering the vulnerable and getting communities to participate in the initiatives.
The speed at which things are done and authorised also needs to be increased. Due to the suddenness with which the pandemic strucks, independent schools and other NPOs had to do away with a lot of red tape in order to act fast. The agility, speed and urgency, while ensuring good governance, is something we need to keep.
Technology has also played a key part in how NPOs have been able to keep functioning. NPOs should invest in technology and integrate it at an administrative level, and in how they work and communicate with their beneficiaries.
The pandemic showed a need for a hierarchy of succession, that is, who will replace you in your role if needed. As more companies run the risk of being shut for long periods, if not completely, and as vital staff can no longer execute their duties, there could be no one to replace them. To ensure longevity and sustainability, management needs to re-evaluate the structure, assessing the functions and roles everyone plays.
My vision of the future of NPOs speaks of a need for change; of inclusion of other NPOs, who intimately know the needs of their communities, and partners at the same table when it comes to planning for the future; and reassessing their resources to improve the organisation's sustainability.
Dr Jerry Gule is chairperson of the Love Trust, a non-profit with a vision to nurture future generations of servant leaders and to provide vulnerable children with quality education and social care.