Helping NGOs work smarter

In a world where corporate employee volunteering often takes the shape of a donation or three, Momentum has transformed the old into a strategic and vibrant solution that continues to provide sustainable results.

The Momentum volunteer’s programme, known as the Mighty Hearts, partnered with the Gauteng department of social development and the Siyakhula Trust to create a three-year programme to support seven community-based organisations or non-profit organisations (NPOs).

“We took about seven NGOs in Gauteng that are community based and we helped to put them through the Siyakhula Trust training programme,” explains Emmanuel Mahlangu, corporate social investment (CSI) manager at Momentum.

“This gave them the skills and training they needed to help them further their strategic planning, marketing, project planning, report writing and even record keeping. Now they have the tools they need to run their establishments in a more organised and professional manner.”

The impact has been remarkable. The NGOs selected by Momentum found that their report writing and how they wrote and created their proposals changed significantly. Regulations that used to be complex and time consuming have become more manageable for the trainees and have had a positive influence.

“Now they can comply with regulations like getting their tax returns submitted or having their organisations registered with the department of social development,” says Mahlangu. “The training provided them with a different outlook with regard to complying with their board and how they appoint board or committee members in their organisation.”

Mahlangu describes the impact that this has had on Lerato la Mme Day Care: “They have had enormous challenges and struggled with writing out their business plans, among other things.

“We gave them this training opportunity and now they know the importance of having a business plan that is strategic and efficient. They were also not compliant with regards to Sars and their status, so the work we have done with them and the Siyakhula Trust has meant that they are now compliant.”

Onica Hlabela from the day care centre says: “I gained more knowledge on how to draft a business proposal and resource mobilisation for the organisation. Fundraising was made easier than I thought. The facilitator was excellent and knowledgeable on the subject presented.”

Mahlangu says: “In addition, the centre survives on donations, but they have never been able to raise funds of their own or generate extra income for their establishment. With our training they are attracting more funders and not relying on hand-outs like they did before.”

The list of organisations supported by the Momentum employee volunteer scheme includes Circle of Life, Bana ba kgosi in Winterveld and the Magau Community Projects in Pretoria.

Success of the trust
How did this relationship come about and why has it been so successful? “The Siyakhula Trust provides the training and the Momentum volunteer’s programme provides the funding,” explains Mahlangu, “We realised that our original strategies for handling the use of donations from employees wasn’t making an effective difference and we looked closely at how we could be of assistance and make a real impact.

“The Momentum staff volunteers programme started in 2003 and gave staff the opportunity to donate funds through the payroll system. These funds have been consistently matched, rand for rand, by the company. The money was originally used to donate blankets, Christmas gifts or groceries to organisations. Staff are now supporting our NGO partners more effectively through this new payroll giving strategy.

"The Siyakhula Trust is an NGO in its own right and focuses on capacity building training and capacity building interventions for organisations and individuals in need. Momentum channels funds that have been donated by employees towards the trust to give their preferred non-profit organisations the training that they require.

“Hand-outs didn’t improve the situations of the NGOs in the long term and we decided that we wanted to give them something that would empower them, something that would help them to become sustainable in the long run,” says Mahlangu. “This was when we partnered with the Siyakhula Trust to close these gaps.”

The partnership has driven change that will have a long-term positive effect on the organisations selected by Momentum, allowing them to identify their own strategies.

“We have seen how much more empowered they are,” says Mahlangu. “They engage with funders on their own and compete with other organisations. They have also improved dialogue with their communities about the services they offer.” Momentum’s employee involvement does not end at the deductions on their salary; they are involved in the external support of the non-profits. Through the Siyakhula Trust staff volunteers are able to fully participate in this CSI initiative.

“We get our staff to give motivational speeches to the community that we’re dealing with and we ask them to also impart some skills,” explains Mahlangu. “If they have expertise in a financial background, or accounting, they can help the organisation balance their books or check that their finances are in order, all free of charge, of course. These are skills that the non-profits appreciate and need.”

Mahlangu has found that the organisation’s dedication to this level of employee volunteering has inspired the staff to do more for these communities.

“Our employees have a passion for this because they get involved in a range of CSI initiatives where they help in soup kitchens, work with youth upliftment initiatives and other similar activities. They come back and share those experiences with their colleagues and often work in teams to visit the organisations and impart knowledge or support them.

“Momentum has found a way of harnessing the need of their employees to make a difference in such a way as to create change and deliver powerful solutions to the organisations. It has resulted in a workforce that gives of its time freely with long-term sustainable outcomes.”