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Sustainability Report

Critical Perspectives on the Sustainability of the South African Civil Society Sector Report


Released by the Coalition on Civil Society Resource Mobilisation:

Charities Aid Foundation (CAF Southern Africa)
Co-operative for Research and Education (CORE)
Legal Resources Centre (LRC)
National Welfare Social Service & Development Forum


South Africa's civil society sector - variously known as the non-profit (NPO) or non-governmental (NGO) sector, plays a vital and often unacknowledged developmental role.  In spite of an enlightened Constitution, discrimination and inequity still abound in South Africa.  Although there has been some progress in racial, ethnic, and gender equality since 1994, South Africa remains a vastly unequal society, riven by all the worst consequences of pervasive poverty.  These include health, education, welfare and human rights failures.

The civil society sector is dedicated to alleviation of these and other damaging socio-economic conditions.  Over the past two decades the sector has increasingly filled gaps in government service delivery.  It is no exaggeration to contend that without the efforts of organisations of civil society the suffering of the poor, the marginalised and the sick would be significantly more acute.  In view of this it seems indefensible that this important sector is experiencing a sustainability crisis.   While we do not have current and reliable statistics on funding to the sector, a variety of sources show that most organisations rely on a combination of (diminishing) international funding, corporate social investment, donations from individuals,  and a degree of income-generation, often via government contracts.  The support of government is erratic at best, as reflected in several recent media expos's.  As a result the sustainability of many important organisations is threatened and many have been forced to close or to drastically reduce staff and associated capacity. These circumstances are greatly exacerbated by the current uncertain economic climate.

With the intention of improving this situation, a group of organisations, collectively known as the Coalition on Civil Society Resource Mobilisation, have published a new report: 'Critical Perspectives on the Sustainability of the South African Civil Society Sector'.  Including an assessment of the functioning of the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) and the National Development Agency (NDA), the report represents the outcome of extensive research and consultation.  The objective is to improve the practice of government grant-making and investment in the sector, and in the process contribute to an effective enabling regulatory environment for South African civil society.


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