NPOs look forward to the future, Newsline

While South Africa’s non-profit organisations (NPOs) have taken a beating during the national lockdown, there is a level of resilience and optimism for the future.

This is according to a survey conducted by social investment firm Tshikululu, published on September 18.

The survey included over 170 NPOs operating across the country, 28 percent of which are located in the Western Cape.

“We are keenly aware of the twin burden of financial survival in the midst of increasing and overwhelming need within the NPO sector,” said Graeme Wilkinson, Social Investment Specialist at Tshikululu. “As part of our role in supporting these organisations, we wanted to understand the nuances of how the Covid-19 pandemic has specifically impacted NPOs during this time.”

According to the survey, 66 percent of the respondents reported a decline in income during the lockdown, and anticipated that their situation would remain difficult during the next 18 months.

Over 67 percent of the respondents reported that their reserves had decreased since the lockdown, while over 63 percent said they expected their reserves to remain suppressed over the next six months.

In regards to staffing, 35 percent of those interviewed had taken steps such as temporarily laying off staff, or reducing working hours to reduce monthly salary costs. 10 percent of those interviewed reported they had had to retrench staff.

However, the survey found the majority of organisations (59 percent) had not lost donors during the lockdown period.

One of the surveyed organisations was the Carel du Toit Centre, located at Tygerberg Hospital and which provides assistance for hearing-impaired children.

“Funding coming through in 2020 in the main is the result of maintaining a deep pipeline of prospects and paying respect to loyal donors over the years,” said Margaret Roestorf, head of fundraising and partnerships at the centre. “It is a year where we are thankful for the relationships which we have and who have continued to support us during this time of extreme stress.”

Dr Diane Bell, Chairperson of the Carol du Toit Trust said: “We survived, and even thrived due to fiscal vigilance, fundraising perseverance, team work, flexibility and delivering a superior relevant service to our beneficiaries. NGO’s that have survived the C-19 lockdown that bowled us some super fast curved balls are those that are lean, flexible, steady, with strict adherence to budgets and with strong financial planning and which have a well-planned fundraising strategy with seasoned fundraiser/s in place.”

In addition, the survey found the majority of organisations were weathering the impact of the lockdown, indicated by Tshikululu’s own Resilience Index.

“While the pandemic and subsequent lockdown have had more negative impacts on organisations than positive ones, our resilience index demonstrates that most respondents are encouragingly categorised as either strongly or moderately resilient, and are doing their best to ensure that the impact on their organisational sustainability and their beneficiaries is minimised,” said analyst Tamika Mtegha. “In fact, 63% of responding NPOs were categorised as being moderately resilient, with a further 31% found to be strongly resilient.”

Weekend Argus