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Funding the biggest challenge for members

NACOSA Network members – some 1,500 organisations across the country – are at the forefront of helping to build healthy communities in Southern Africa. In our latest membership survey, 80% reported lack of funding as one of the biggest challenges they face. This was in stark contrast to the 2015 survey where only 63% reported lack of funding as a challenge.

The 2017 survey focused on the challenges facing organisations, the systems they have in place to address these challenges and how NACOSA can actively support their advocacy work.  The valuable insights provided will help NACOSA further improve and develop our network and, in the spirit of learning and collaboration, share the results more broadly to improve understanding of the sector.


Disappointingly, the survey had half as many respondents as the previous survey but the insights provided by the 36 organisations that responded were nevertheless valuable to NACOSA and of interest to the sector. The majority (59%) registered as members on the NACOSA website and had been members for between one and five years (46%). Respondent organisations had a variety of focus areas with Children & Youth and Health (both 14%); Rights & Legal and Community & Homebased Care (both 11%); and Women and Girls (8%) coming out top.

Most respondents were from the Western Cape (37%), with 23% from the Eastern Cape and 14% from Gauteng.


Resources remain the biggest challenge faced by organisations with 80% reporting lack of funding and 34% reporting staffing and human resource shortages. Limited access to information on funding, other opportunities and other strategic information was next at 29% and Lack of programmatic or technical skills (eg social work, M&E, fundraising) was at 31%.

Capacity Building and duration of funding for projects/programme not adequate to track behaviour change.

Need for management training.

Support within civil society appears good, however, with only 3% of respondents reporting “Poor connections with other organisations and networks” as a challenge and none reported “Conflict with community” as a challenge.


In response to these challenges, 71% had developed strategic partnerships with other organisations, government or companies and 68% had a monitoring and evaluation framework in place. 62% of respondents had a Fundraising, income generation or sustainability strategy and 48% had a Leadership succession plan (preparing for senior management changes).

Only 31% of organisations had reserve funds to cover 6 months of operation and just 20% were planning to create one.


We asked respondents if they had any advocacy campaigns planned for the year and many mentioned children and youth, youth unemployment and socio-economic justice and rights as issues. Some said they would focus specifically on young women and girls:

We are implementing a programme that will engage 20 000 youth, mainly young women in a concerted effort to reduce teenage pregnancy, keep girls in school and give them access to sexual and reproductive health education and HIV prevention tools.

Advocating for girls and women in information communication technology.

Girls clubs, also girls’ empowerment.

72% said we could support their advocacy work by featuring it on the NACOSA website and newsletter and 78% said linking their organisation with other similar campaigns would be most useful. 59% thought it would be useful for NACOSA to promote the campaign on social media and provide information on related national campaigns.


The vast majority (94%) of organisations said they joined the NACOSA Network for capacity building & training opportunities and 84% said they joined for access to funding opportunities. Networking with other organisations (78%) and sharing learning and best practices (72%) were also popular motivations for joining the network.

Respondents offered good suggestions on how NACOSA could improve the network experience for members, including:

Try and make it available to rural NGO’s through media like radio especially for organisations with no computer training and maybe provide such training.

Survey and questionnaires are valuable at least once or twice per year. Apart from the AGM reports, the newsletter is informative. If at all possible, one conference per year with members. Keep communication channels open.

By making awareness in our smaller communities, as many people and organisations in our community are not aware of the good work NACOSA does.

Link us with organisations that can support and enhance our services and programmes.

The NACOSA Network Secretariat is analysing the survey responses in detail to inform our planning for making the network work harder for our members and the communities they serve.

If you would like to contribute your thoughts on membership, email the NACOSA Network Secretariat: