How to make NPOs more sustainable and cement the bonds with donors

A year after the start of the pandemic and school systems around the world are still trying to find models that work best. The consensus though appears to be that computers are no substitute for the quality of learning that a classroom environment provides. For children and schools in some of the poorest communities in South Africa remote eLearning isn’t even an option as only 22% of households have a computer and 10% an internet connection in South Africa.

Access is pivotal for academic growth opportunities

The lockdowns therefore had a devastating effect on the academic progress of the most vulnerable children in our society, and will be felt for generations to come. Not only did the pandemic expose how tenuous the access poor communities have to basic education, but also how vulnerable our schools are and how unequal the education system in South Africa is. But, for NPO schools that are left to fend for themselves, as government tries to plug the many holes exposed by the pandemic, how do we make schools more resilient and the relationship with investors stronger than before?

Weathering the storm that is the pandemic

Even with the strategies The Love Trust implemented to weather the pandemic, without the generous support of donors and partners we wouldn’t have come through it as we did. It is estimated that about 40% of the Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs) in informal communities that The Love Trust are involved with closed down because of a lack of operating revenue. The Love Trust does not fund these centres directly, we provide services, curriculum support, teacher training and resources. Many NPOs struggled during the pandemic and many closed their doors due to lack of funding from donations which they rely on.

Using the best defences for sustainable development

There are a number of factors that NPOs could do to make themselves more attractive and trustworthy to investors, especially now when money is tight, and the private sector is more discerning of who they partner with. These include: good governance and compliance; clear and detailed sustainability strategy in place such as a cash reserve and BEE partnerships; a proven and documented track record; a good communication channel with donors where you provide feedback on promises made and promises kept; compassion for your beneficiaries and a passion for what you do; the ability to adapt and innovate by cutting away excess expenses and bureaucracy; and a willingness to try new things and challenge yourself by constantly looking for ways to grow.

Empowerment is key to fostering ongoing positive support

As part of what NPOs can do to prove their credibility, our EmpowerDex certification is of great significance. The Love Trust has two certifications, the first being our Beneficiary Analysis with black beneficiary of 95.08% (up from 93.08%) which means 100% B-BBEE Socio-Economic Development (SED) recognition that qualify donors for the section 18A certificate tax benefits. The second certificate is called the Ownership Certificate and relates to the BEE rankings of The Love Trust’s investors and partners and then, any proceeds from these investments actually come back to The Love Trust to help us with our cause. This is a meaningful and significant partnership as not only does this provide reassurance for the investors, but it also supports the investors and the NPO’s long term sustainability.

Through partnering with sustainable, accredited and innovative NPOs, investors ensure the growth and broaden the impact that NPOs have, while benefitting financially and emotionally from this exchange. This is significant given the huge reliance of government on NPOs to delivery and achieve their commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals.