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Hi Fazila

Just to let you know that I find the information dispersed in these newsletters highly appropriate and very useful. I encourage you and your team to keep up the good work of making our lives as NGO's a lot simpler.

Thank you

Gavin MacGregor
Operations Director
Heifer International-South Africa

Dear Editor
 
I think there may be some merit in widening this debate - I do agree that this issue is impacted by (fundraising) management skills within NGOs.
 
I also think there maybe some merit in exploring the issue of donors agendas with NGOs.
 
There was an article which appeared in The M&G late last year entitled "NGOs are not donors puppets". I disagree with this statement. I think there is a growing trend for particularly large corporate NGOs to set NGO agendas according to their objectives, particularly where they sit on their Boards.
 
There is also evidence that Board members of NGOs are not supporting the fundraising activities of NGOs in terms of their fiduciary responsibilities as Board members.   
 
There is also a growing trend towards corporates supporting one ot two chosen organisations and projects on an on-going basis to meet their own objectives. In my view, there are pros and cons in this regard.
 
These issues certainly add fuel to the argument that there is an NGO funding crisis, particularly where NGOs attempt to thwart corporate donors agendas, and fulfil their development mandate as organs of civil society.
 
There are finally issues around government funding of NGOs.
 
The issue may, therefore, be a multi-faceted one which may be a reason why you are not getting responses. By widening the debate, you may get a better response? 
 
Sincerely
 
Jan Beeton  
Independent Education, Training and Development Consultant
Integrated Futures Ubumbano

It’s just over three months since the launch of this portal on World Development Information Day 2005 and a fitting time to take stock of our impact.

Let’s look at the numbers first. More than 38,000 Visitors came to the portal in the months leading to the end of January, viewing a total of 378,000 pages. In spite of the sluggish post holiday start to the New Year, 14,195 people visited the portal in the month of January alone. We are extremely honoured by the attention paid to the portal and see this growing interest as a validation of our efforts.

Moreover, our weekly alerting service, NGO Pulse, which is released every Tuesday and intended to inform subscribers about new postings on the portal, has attracted 2,793 subscribers. This number is increasing on a weekly basis.

It is interesting to note that at least 30% of the hits received by the portal, originate from international sources. Our sophisticated web tracking software tracks their "key word" searches and reveals that these are not just accidental tourists, but people looking for information about NGOs and development.

This interest in the portal places a great deal of pressure on us to populate all sections urgently. However, by its very nature, the defining feature of a portal is its organically evolving nature which depends on external partnerships and information that constantly influence its form and content. Accordingly, we appeal for your patience as we proceed in a consciously reflective and receptive manner. Our goal is to provide the foundation for the growth of all the portal’s sections by the time SANGONeT’s ICTs for Civil Society Conference takes place in March 2006.

In addition, the outcome of our January online poll has produced surprising results - both from a participation and results perspective. A disappointing 47 people participated in the poll that sought to interrogate views about the so-called NGO donor funding crisis.

• 48.9% of respondents argued that there is no donor funding crisis, NGOs at risk of closure are those that are poorly managed and lacking in strategic focus. 
• 25.5% argued that the donor funding crisis will continue but NGOs will adapt becoming more focused to survive in a restrained financial environment. 
• 19.1% argued that the donor funding crisis will continue and more NGOs will close.
• 6.4% believed that donor funding will increase bringing much relief to the NGO sector. 

Clearly, more than half of our respondents believe that the NGO sustainability problem is not funding related, but management related. Also, a small percentage of these particular poll-takers are unusually optimistic about donor support in the immediate future.

While I would venture to say that the issue of NGO management and governance begs some attention, this outcome tends to go against the grain of our experience on the ground, which suggests that shifting global priorities and a variable development terrain also affects the nature of donor support, even diminishing it. Should you wish to comment on this issue, do send a letter to the portal’s editor.

Take our February poll that seeks to shed some light on perceptions about the significance of NGOs having an online presence. Do you think websites are a vital component of NGOs’ communications strategies?

Finally, do peruse our Letters to the Editor and Weekly Whinge sections that have recently received a reasonable amount of commentary about the local NGO sector and related development issues. We thank you for your inputs and trust that you will continue to use the SANGONeT portal to engage in discussion and debate.

Fazila Farouk - editor@sangonet.org.za.

Thank you for the opportunity to engage in this discussion. Surely the “debate around best practice and the utility of the information provided online” revolves around an imbalance in best practise expectations in the Corporate-NGO relationship. The NGO objective is for corporate CSR policies and funding criteria to be accessible and explicit online, which does not appear to be the case with many of the sites I have visited; some of which are included in your list. With results, social development activity and its much needed benefits are hindered. Let our debate be on the BEST ACTION TO TAKE towards achieving accessibility and clarity on CSR policies and funding criteria on corporate sites. Let us not get stuck on debating WHY this situation currently exists; or whether or not it exists.

Leslie Kemp From St Philomena's Children's Home.

I have heard the view expressed that if all the agencies, NGOs and CBOs were to pool their funds, hire a plane, fly over the country and drop the cash out of the window they would have a bigger impact on poverty than everything we are doing at the moment.  This may or may not be true but it is instructive to remember this perspective when looking at our impact...

From Mark Turpin of Care South Africa-Lesotho.

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