Non-profits can do more for grassroots’ CSI with technology – Sage
Philanthropy in Africa is evolving as pressure mounts on national budgets; hence the role of technology in reducing cost becomes expedient for any non-profit organisation (NPO).
Sage Foundation Programme Manager, Joanne van der Walt shared with BusinessDay observations from the Africa Grantmakers Affinity Group conference.
Non-profits are living in time where governments are increasingly looking for avenues to cut down on expenditures. Countries like the United States which constitutes majority of donations to global philanthropy under the Donald Trump administration have put in place measures to reduce donations for programmes in Africa.
Economic headwinds in some African countries such as Nigeria also mean that local grants to non-profits are being reduced. Nigeria recently announced it was exiting membership of over 90 global organisations.
Corporate social investment (CSI) at the grassroots can benefit from the use of technology, said Walt.
“The CSI sector should be looking at whether it’s doing enough to support partners at grassroots level with technology that can empower them to do their jobs. From mobile phones to accounting solutions tech can help (NPOs) to build capacity and grow efficiencies in their operations,” she said.
Walt also stated that non-profits can also benefit if they are not burdened by administrative bureaucracies of producing complex reports every three months, which they do not have capacity for.
Companies that invest in non-profits should have long-term views. Hence reporting requirements should be kept at simple as possible.
“As grant makers, we need to be willing to take risks from time to time because the risky projects are the ones that will sometimes have the best pay-off. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, our example, gave $2 million to a local Ethiopian bank for a women’s startup development project. It understood that there was a chance the project would fail, but it didn’t. It lent the funds with a 2 percent interest rate and every cent was repaid,” Walt said.
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