There were, in March 2020, an estimated 200 000 NGOs in South Africa and in 2015, there were just over 140 000 registered NGOs. A report by the Kagiso Trust highlights that the rise in the number of NGOs represents an increase of over 200% over the past 10 years.
The rise in the number of NGOs does not mirror the decrease in local and international funding which has seen a number of NGOs scale back their services or shut down completely. Data from Inyathelo, which focuses on resource mobilisation and capacity-building for NGOs, indicates that a majority of newly formed NGOs are small and micro-organisations with annual incomes ranging between R50 000 and R500 000. Even though there are significant investments in the sector, the high number of NGOs contributes towards increased competition for funding and, to a degree, this limits the impact within the sector as there is a replication of programmes and a lack of an overarching strategic mission. The challenges of operating in an unpredictable landscape were highlighted during an event hosted by Community Chest to celebrate World NGO Day in Cape Town.
One of the significant highlights of the event was the acknowledgement that the capacity of NGOs to innovate would be greatly enhanced if there was an opportunity to strategically collaborate and move away from working in silos. Collaboration also presents an opportunity to pool resources and invest in broader mission-led initiatives that could strengthen the social impact that NGOs have in communities. This is critical as funding and social impact are key components within the sector.
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