Engage wisely

My mom told me a story of when we had just moved house (we moved many times in my childhood) and this particular story stuck with me. 

It had been a rough week of packing boxes ensuring all crockery and glassware made the journey safely.  She arrived at our new home, excited for the new chapter of life but exhausted from what lay behind and anxious for what lay ahead – another week of unpacking those same boxes and finding new places for everything.  The removal van arrived and started offloading our belongings and then a very well-meaning neighbour visited – so excited to come and welcome us to the neighbourhood and meet a new friend.  In her hands was the most beautiful bunch of flowers to brighten our new home.  Quite a contrast to the chaos of the dusty boxes piled everywhere.  My mom burst into tears as she realised she did not know which box the vase was in. That beautiful bunch of flowers was doomed to lie in the sink and block the way until they died.

 

I tell this story because this is what we are doing to these unfortunate people who have been impacted by the recent floods in Durban.  We are pitching up at their door (if they have one) with food, clothes and blankets and they have nowhere to put them, nowhere to store it to keep it dry.  Yes, I cannot deny that those items are needed and welcomed; but what they really need is their house fixed and free of mud.  The best way you can help in the situation is get hold of a NPO operating in the area you want to make a difference and either make a cash donation so they can help the people or donate building materials (roof sheets, builders plastic, cement, bricks, pallets, wood, nails, hammers, spades; literally anything that can be used to get a house structure back together).  The best way to get involved is to give in a way that truly helps and not just patches your need to have been involved.  Come on Durban, let us engage the problems we face wisely that make lasting impact.  Let us see Durban become the most caring City. Let us do this together.

2019 – The Promise of More

The start of a new year brings with it so many promises.  A clean slate.  The bad of last year gone, a repose over Christmas and now it is time to engage.  I have a sneaky suspicion 2019 is going to be a year of action.  So many stop-starts last year, so many platforms created, so many good relationships developed.  Its time, Durban.  It is time to bring about change and time to shine.

This year has started with exciting prospects. City Story is planning for great interventions that will literally transform the way we look at our City.  The Homelessness Task Force is mobilising such incredible minds behind public private partnerships.  The plans are to engage all sectors generating solutions into the homelessness crisis we face in Durban.  I have a God-given hope and love for this city.  I have a hope that this city will be truly known as the most caring and liveable city in Africa but not just because some statistics group declares it as such, but because the people who live here know it, feel it, experience it.  That is when we know we have won.

I have been aware for some time that our problem in our city is not pollution, or the government, or the homeless or the sex workers or anything else we want to blame.  The problem we have in Durban (and maybe South Africa) is fear.  It has gripped us in some cases with a subtle touch and in other incidents with a powerful grasp.  I chatted, the other day, to a friend of mine from Congo and he really drove this point home for me.  He spoke of an incident that happened outside his window late at night when he heard a young woman screaming; “Help”.  He looked out his window and could not see anything except to see every window in the neighbouring block of flats had people peeking out the window, but not moving.  He then went out of his home into the street to see a man attacking a woman and trying to rape her.  He shouted at the person and the guy ran off.  Two others came out at the same time he did, both Congolese (one male and one female).  He said to me that though Congo is dangerous in many ways, the general population stick together and fight for what is right.  If one household is robbed the neighbours come together to stop the thief.  In Durban, we are too scared that we may be the next victim or be identified as a witness and targeted. But, what happens when the majority stand up and say, “no”?  In that moment “NO”.  No mass community brutality on the perpetrator, just a “NO”.  Suddenly, there would be too many witnesses. Suddenly, too many people would be present to claim a next victim.  Too many good people are peering through windows in Durban hoping, praying someone will say no, but unless someone starts, unless someone stands up we are just going to have a bunch of nameless witnesses who are too traumatised to speak and many more incidents to view. 

Can a City change in our lifetime?  Yes, I believe it can change in a day.  When we as Durban stand together and say “no”.  When we see things that hurt people we just need to stand and say no, together as a collective of good people, things will change for the better.  There are more good people here than bad but we have given power to the bad people for too long.  Come on good people of Durban let us take this City this year.  Let us stand for what is good, noble, and true.  Let us just say no, together, to things that we know are wrong.  No to rape, no to theft, no to hijackings, no to litter, no to corruption, no to whatever we do not need in our City, just no!

Its time to rise Durban, it’s time to shake off fear and step up to be the city that people flock to for peace.  I want more for our City.  I believe 2019 is our year.

Celebrating our Real Heroes

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“The world would be a peaceful place if it were ruled by women…Women can actually make society civil…Actually it is very straightforward: let women take over.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

 

For the month of August in celebration of Women’s Day, we are doing just that, letting the inspiring women, the real heroes in our community, take over!  Women are often the unsung heroes in our community but this month we are hoping to highlight them.  We are looking for your hope carrier, impact champion and change agent.  Like Aloes, these women are flowering majestically wherever they have been planted.

Nominate someone that inspires and challenges you to be more than you have been in the past or is changing your community for the better.

Between the 9th and 22nd July 2018 anyone residing in Ethekwini is invited to identify women that are making a positive impact in the lives of others.  They must reside or be impacting the eThekwini community.

 

Click HERE to complete the nomination form.

 

A selection committee will choose the women that will be profiled on our Facebook page throughout the month of August.  We want to honour and celebrate these women so that we can show as many people as possible how incredible they are.

 

 “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.”

– Proverbs 31:25

 

Terms and conditions:

  1. The “Celebrating our Real Heroes” initiative is not a competition. There are no prizes.  It is a forum to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of extra-ordinary women to their community.
  2. 15 women or more, or “Heroes 2018” will be celebrated during the month of August. One for every other day of woman’s month.
  3. Nominations for “Celebrating our Real Heroes” are open from Monday 9 July 2018 – Monday 22 July 2018 at 23h59.  No nominations will be accepted after this time.
  4. Nominees must have made contributions to communities within the eThekwini Municipal area.
  5. Nominations may not be for any member of staff or family of We are Durban or Olive Tree Church. 
  6. A committee will review nominations and the 15 women selected to be “Heroes 2018”, will be contacted by the end of July 2018. 
  7. The committee’s decision is final.
  8. The “Heroes 2018” agree to have their pictures taken and their work and stories to profiled in social media and local media including print and radio.
  9. The “Celebrating our Real Heroes” initiative is voluntary. Should a selected Hero not wish to participate they may opt out.  In such instances the committee will select a suitable replacement based on the nominations.
  10. We are Durban may disqualify a nominated “Heroes 2018” before or after any public announcement, should any rule transgressions or factors which may bring We are Durban, its partners, sponsors and stakeholders into disrepute be discovered.  In such instances, and if time allows, the committee will select a suitable replacement based on the nominations.
  11. “Heroes 2018” take part in the initiative at their own risk and We are Durban bears no responsibility for any loss, damage or harm suffered as a result of participation.

Everything Counts – NPO Conference, 9 March 2018

On Friday, 9 March, we spent the day speaking about the forbidden subject of financial management in our NPO’s.  We were incredibly blessed to have excellent speakers with thorough knowledge of finance in the NPO sector.  We were able to work together on creating books and experiencing the reality of creating financial reports.  It was also an opportunity for NPO leaders to meet and discuss their common challenges in the field of financial management. They were able to glean useful information from auditors and guest speakers on how they can overcome their difficulties. 

Our Guest speakers were a lovely collaboration between accountants, financial planners and auditors from various fields.  Melissa Teixeira, is the accountant for Zoe-life, made accounting practices so simple to understand and easy to follow but gave some useful tips on reporting to funders. Tarryn Wright, is a partner at Moore Stephens an auditing firm and a volunteer on the SPCA board.  She spoke into budgeting and the importance of it in the NPO sector. Terence Ronald is one of We are Durban’s volunteers and a financial planner and gave a few tips on financial planning.  Lungelo Njoko, a trainee-audit clerk spoke into audit preparation.  The trainees are the people who deal with the raw audit material and therefore are the most equipped to share the information on how to do it effectively. 

We thank our great sponsors for their involvement in the event VUM, Duromed cc and Integrated Insurance.  Their support allows us to provide a wonderful day to the NPO leaders who deserve to be spoiled and grow in the work that they do. Our NPO’s serve the less fortunate with such heart and passion and we need to serve them and equip them to be their best.  Well done to everyone involved!

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Bucket Drive 2017

During November and December an amazing campaign, CITYSERVE, is organised by City Story Durban.  Their goal every year is to unite hundreds of people for a week and give them the chance to bless and be blessed by those who are less fortunate, or those just in need of some extra support.  From the 26th November to the 2nd December, congregations of various churches were invited to engage with either a project that was organised through a church’s mission, or partner with one of CITYSERVE’s pre-identified projects (bucket drive, feeding schemes, night missions, street clean-ups, etc).

We are Durban is heavily involved in the annual Bucket Drive and work closely with Olive Tree Church (Florida Road, Kloof, Salt Rock).  Through this network over 700 buckets were packed with groceries and distributed to ten organisations!  We are grateful to everyone that got involved from buying a bucket and filling it with groceries or helping to check the contents of every bucket or driving to collect or deliver.  There were many tired bodies but the smiles and shouts of joy on the receiving end made it all worthwhile.

A special thank you to the businesses that were challenged and generously gave towards this project: Headwear 24, Illovo Sugar and VUM Insurance.

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Sustainability of NPO’s is critical in today’s economic environment

(Linda Morrison’s USB Assignment)

For a ship to leave a harbour, it needs four things in place; an intact structure, the resources to move (i.e. fuel and manpower), a purpose or reason to leave and an environment in which to do so.  The same can be said for ensuring the sustainability of an NPO in today’s economic environment.  In order to tackle the topic effectively, definitions need to be addressed upfront. Cannon’s (1999) description of sustainability is useful; “sustainability is the ability of an organisation to secure and manage sufficient resources to enable it to fulfil its mission effectively over time without excessive dependence on any single funding source”.  A NPO (non-profit organisation) is an organisation that in itself cannot distribute any profits among its board members.  It is set up to serve a need in the community that is not adequately addressed within the government sectors and is not profitable for a company to address.  South Africa’s current economic environment, though technically showing that we have exited the recession, still is abysmal.  There is low confidence in investment and political interference causes much concern (Focus Economics, 2017). This is the turbulent environment that the NPO ships face as they attempt to deliver their service to the community.

Like the structure of a ship enables the ship to float and perform a function, organisational clarity provides structure that empowers the NPO to deliver its service.  Without organisational structure the NPO is going to sink (pun intended).  It allows for all stakeholders to operate effectively so there is maximum benefit.    The structure is created by the Board through good governance, management practices and strategic direction and translated through the leadership to everyone in the organisation so that all understand and buy into the unique identity of the organisation.  In applying the King IV codes of good conduct and specifically the addendum for NPO’s or Inyathelo’s Independent Code for Good Governance, to the organisation, the organisation’s Board set themselves up for the benefits of good leadership and ethical well-run organisations.  Good governance ensures accountability, transparency, responsiveness, dealings that are equitable and inclusive, the organisation is meeting strategic imperatives, it follows the rule of the law, it is participatory and is consensus orientated (Boyd, 2017).  Strategic plans are key to ensuring the organisation is thinking long term.  What are the plans for the next three to five years?  How are we going to achieve them?  Who is needed to achieve them?  What is needed to achieve them?  What budget is required to do so?  When thinking of these questions the NPO reduces surprises in their futures increasing their ability to deliver their services to their beneficiaries, long term. Stemming out of good strategic plans are the appropriate management practices to bring about those plans.   What are the structures in place that ensure the work that needs to be done, is done in the correct time frame?  Management practices also ensure services are delivered to the required standard.  Identity is such a key, but often forgotten, aspect of sustainability.  Many NPO’s spend all their time focusing on service delivery that they forget the brand that they are building and end up building it haphazardly.  In today’s world of social media, it is so key to always, in every dealing with people; deal with them in a manner that is consistent to the vision, values and identity of the NPO.  Failing to do so can result in a judgment being made of the organisation that is not necessarily a representation of the organisation.  This can be so easily avoided if leadership is clear and those who are a part of the organisation are bought into the vision.  York says “that organisations that have strong internal leadership and leader vision are significantly more sustainable than those that do not”.  If all people in the organisation whether the board, management, employees and volunteers are all working together towards a common goal with clear guidelines and an inspiring vision, the organisation will achieve a great measure of sustainability as all efforts are unified.  When there is a sound organisational structure of good governance, management practices and strategic direction and translated through the leadership to all involved, it enables NPO to move forward and make long term impact on the community they wish to serve.

Resources are required to move a ship forward.  It is not good enough to have a ship that will just float, but that ship needs to be able to move.  In order to do so, fuel and people are needed.  The same in a NPO, except fuel takes the form of finances.  Funding is required to fuel everything.  Most people understand the need for finances; without it there would be no facilities, staffing or raw materials.  Here consideration needs to be made to both income generation through fundraising, grants, donations or self-generation and to appropriate management of that finance. In today’s economic climate, it is becoming more and more essential to diversify streams of finance. (Coblentz, 2002; Tyler 2017).  The more varied the organisation’s income base the more sustainable they are (if one source dries up it does not jeopardise the entire project).  With increasing donor fatigue today, it is imperative that funds are managed appropriately and to the highest standards.  Good financial management ensures greater impact and reduces wastage of resources.   The second resource, that is equally valuable to the organisation, is the correct human resources.  There is no point in having a great, structurally sound ship, and the fuel to go where you need to, if you do not have the correct staff on board. Each person in the organisation needs to be bought into the vision, understand their roles and responsibilities and have the capacity to act within the policy guideline for the organisation.  Having the right people in the organisation allows the ship to move in the right direction in line with the purpose it was intended.  In order for the organisation to be sustainable, and long term, the resources needed (i.e. finances and human resources) for it to deliver its services demand consideration and appropriate management, otherwise the NPO will fail its mission.

The third important factor to consider with a ship, is its intended purpose.  Just as with a ship there is going to be a problem if people sign up for a cruise, to discover they are being loaded on a cargo ship, or vice versa. If your organisation has a mandate in a certain area, it is purpose-built to deal with that certain need in society. There is no point in wasting time building a structure and capacitating it with fuel and people, if the purpose of the ship is not clear or even existent.  The purpose of the organisation is its value it adds to society and its service delivery.  Often an organisation that is addressing a prevalent or even trendy problem will find it easier to raise funds and find good funding partners.  When an organisation develops a positive reputation funding often finds them too.  Society will often fight for a well-known but struggling organisation, when they face a funding crisis, as has been the case with Childline KZN in recent years.  Key to this is good monitoring and evaluation ensuring stakeholders all know the benefit the organisation adds to society.  When the purpose of the organisation is clear and all stakeholders are aware and bought into the value of the organisation, the organisation is likely to sustain for the long haul.  Latham (2016) says that an organisation “will never leap the chasm of sustainable success with small thinking and cost cutting”. She goes onto say that when the NPO shift their focus from money and capacity, to value they add, they will “leave their woes behind”.

In conclusion, there are many factors that need deliberation when looking at sustainability of a NPO.  The common thinking, is always to look at the funds coming in to know whether an organisation is set to last, but there are far more factors that affect the longevity it.  “Organisational sustainability represents an ongoing process rather than a state of perfection”, Coblentz (2002).  When looking at a NPO, just like a ship, the whole needs to be considered.  When the organisational structure, resources and purpose are developing and improving continually, the organisation stands itself in good stead to last, even in the tumultuous South African economic climate.

References:

Boyd, M (2017); Governance issues specific to NPO’s and their Boards; MRB Bus ©

Cannon, L (1999) Life Beyond aid: 20 strategies to help make NPO’s sustainable; Innitiative for Participatory Development

Coblentz, J (2002); Organisational Sustainability: Three aspects that matter; for ERNWACA’s first strategy session

King IV: Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa 2016; Institute of Directors Southern Africa

Latham, A (2016); The Secret to Sustainability for Non-profit Organisations; Forbes

South African Economic Outlook; (2017) Focus Economics; https://www.focus-economics.com/countries/south-africa

The Independent Code of Governance for Non-Profit Organisations in South Africa; (2015); Inyathelo: The South African Institution for Advancement ©

Tyler, P (2017); USB Management Programme for NPO’s: Financial management; C Masters Development Services CC

Weerawardena, J, et al; (2010) Sustainability of non-profit organisations: An empirical investigation; Journal of World Business 45; www.elsevier.com/locate/jwb

Wenreb, E (2012); When sustainability meets human resources; GreenBiz; www.greenbiz.com

Impact Zone – NPO Conference

“Let’s go surfin’ now…..Everybody’s learning how….Come on and safari with me…”

With a surfing themed NPO Conference, how could we not begin this report with lyrics from the iconic Beach Boys!

It was perfectly titled “Impact Zone” and lived up to its name in every way.   It was a conference on setting a NPO for a successful 2018.

We were treated to fantastic speakers again with Travis Gale from Apple Tree speaking on the culture in the workplace.  He challenged the delegates to ensure their values are aligned. He encouraged teams to spend time speaking up when there is conflict so that it is resolved timeously as it impacts on the organisation.  Travis encouraged us to remember we are adults having conversations with adults and to whenever we have to deal with situations to ensure we respond as an adult no matter how we are being treated.  Great wisdom to ensure our organisations “shred”!

Simon Kozlowski (The Reinvention Coach) was back again giving great insight that will set up our NPO’s to “set their line” for 2018.  His great model makes large changes manageable and attainable.  We look forward to seeing Durban flourish due to goals being met next year.

We were able to allow our organisations to “Hang ten”, while we had a surprise guest performance by Freddy Lalendle, of The Voice fame.  His unique sound resulted in him progressing well in Season 2 of the Voice.  His love of the NPO sector meant giving back was a easy yes when asked.  Thanks for sharing your gift with us.

Craig Mannheim (Unprecedented Pictures), got everyone to turn their smartphones into fancy cameras taking beautiful pictures that can be used in marketing material, social media and reporting.  Craig is a fantastic asset to our organisation and was such a blessing to those who heard him speak.

Our desig(nerd), Sarah McKenzie, shared incredible insight into telling a story with your material you release.  Useful tips and trends were shared so we know that all our NPO’s ideas will be “off the wall”.  Sarah has been volunteering her time, talent and energy to we are Durban making our branding incredible.  It was so exciting to see her on stage sharing the gift with 40 other organisations.

So as we head into summer and our thoughts head to the beach, we hope that all who attended our final conference for 2017, will be reminded of the valuable lessons learnt and incredible connections made this year.  May this time be a time of regrouping and setting up for an excellent 2018 in the “Impact Zone”!

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Sawubona

As I reached the summit of the umpteenth hill on my afternoon run there was a lady waiting for her lift.  I timed my words with the exhale, as a pant is all I could do at this stage. “Morning”. We looked each other in the eyes.  “morning”, she replied.  A smile clearly in her eyes.  A connection made. I laugh, inwardly (there is no way I could get it out at this stage). Even in my jumble, a stark contrast comes to mind. A run, a week ago, in one of our other South African cities…

I went to reception of the B&B I was staying in and asked where in the area is not safe to run.  The man behind the counter appears confused, “where are you from?”. “Durban”, I reply. “Lady, you’re in X now, I wouldn’t go running here, you’ll get mugged!”.  I had to do some exercise, so I made a compromise and ran up and down the short distance in front of the B&B. Not at all satisfying but it was better than nothing and being cooped up all day!  The first commuter comes towards me. I look for his eyes; he looks away as I say “hi”.  No response. I try again on the next one, except I don’t get any eye contact at all. It gives me the feeling of unease and isolation amidst people, like no one trusts anyone here.

So as I push through the remainder of my run back in our wonderful city, I ponder the difference.  Everyone I go past, there is a “hello”, “sawubona”, “yebo”, “afternoon” and the occasional “morning” (which rather forgivingly, is smiled at, maybe because the person who receives it thinks I am out of my mind anyway for running). There is a connection.  Though we are different; different races, genders, age groups, social classes; we are people.  How did we get it right in Durban? That is the question on my mind.   Has the Peace Agency’s Stop Crime Say Hello campaign really worked well? Or maybe it has something to do with our Zulu culture. Is there, perhaps, something in the greeting of, “Sawubona” that has instilled a togetherness, even across difference?

Sawubona. The spirit in me sees the spirit that is in you. I know it is not considered “cool” among the many of the youth and young adults in Durban.  They say it is overused and outdated.  I want to argue that it potentially is the “warmth” of Durban.  Every person is yearning for connection.  It is the very essence of humanity to be a part of something.  I feel that here we have a connection, a togetherness, an openness. Though we do not always fully understand each other, we realise every person is a person created for community. I dare say we need to fight to maintain “Sawubona” and its plural “Sanibonani” in our culture, despite how “uncool” it may be. From my recent experience out of town, there is no place I would rather be. Well done Durban, I am proud to be a part of this community.  It truly is the “warmest place to be” and not because of our weather!

Linda Morrison

Amashova 2017

We had a small team of 17 cyclists rode the Amashova Cycle Race, on Sunday 22 October, in our beautiful jerseys to raise funds and awareness for the work we do.

This year, the funds they raised, will be used to develop a We are Durban Volunteer App to make volunteering in Durban easily accessible and more effective!  We will update you on how much was raised when all monies are collected.  The app is going to cost us in the region on R300,000. We have R50,000 in the bank and we are looking to raise the remaining amount.  Contact volunteer@wearedurban.com for more information on the app.

So we give a massive thank you to our cyclists, their seconds, generous sponsors and cheerleaders…well done for your efforts in making a change in Durban!

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Volunteering: You at your Best

Volunteering: Part 2

With our Volunteer induction having just happened on Monday 2 October, it felt fitting to post another article on volunteering well.

In eThekwini we have about 3500 registered NPO’s.  That is not including all the charities that are not registered as they are going on quite nicely without the paperwork.  There is a wide variety of services that are offered in various locations.  Choosing an organisation that would bring out your best or benefit from you the most can be quite daunting. But just like you (generally) do not get married on your first date, you should not pick an organisation because it is the first one you heard of.  To make the most of your volunteer time do some research before you marry yourself to an organisation.  Here are some questions to help guide you:

  • What is being done in my community? Most people cannot go off on extended volunteer trips, and when you have to travel an hour to where you are going to give your time, you probably will not last that long. Look local, local to your office so you can pop in on your way to or from work, or even during your lunch hour, or look close to home so that it is just a short trip on a weekend or during your free time.
  • Match up with what you want to do. You may have to do some real digging. Not all organisations have web presence, use your networks.
  • Prioritise your top 4 and interview them. Make a site visit and ask them questions.  You know you, they do not, find out if you are going to be a good fit in their space.  Is your heart aligned to their vision?  Is there something you can do (within your limited capacity) to help them reach their potential?
  • What are the organisations expectations of volunteers? Some organisations are very structured, you submit paperwork, you are inducted, you sign your code of conduct, and you are given a task, you are monitored. Others you can literally could do anything. If you are going to have contact with minors, you are going to be checked on the sexual offenders list and you will be required to submit a police clearance certificate.
  • What cultural boundaries am I crossing? Most of us don’t think of our own culture too much.  It’s just the way we are; the normal way we do things.  Here in Durban, we have a literal melting pot of cultures.  Where this question is only often pertinent is in foreign volunteering,  here is Durban it is relevant all the time! Be mindful that not all people you will volunteer with will react the same way you do when you work together.
  • Does the organisation have the capacity to handle a volunteer? It may seem a strange question, but volunteers take a lot of time and manpower to prepare for. Some NPO’s can cope with volunteers and others cannot.  If you feel like you going to the organisation is a burden on them, it probably is. Respect that and move on to another organisation who has the capacity to host you.  Organisations cope on minimal budget and are stretched to capacity on their human resource if you are taking someone away from their usual job or if you do not do your work to the exact standard that is required you are wasting someone’s time and sometimes the organisation’s resources.

The more knowledge you have of the organisations in your area the more you are able to help and the more likely your volunteering experience is going to add value to the community and be enjoyable for you. If you would like information on some organisations in your area, please ask us and ask one of the organisations in your area as they generally know who else is operating nearby.  Enjoy your time giving back to making Durban all it was meant to be!

We have another volunteer induction happening on 13 November.  If you would like to hear about some organisations that you would be able to serve in, in eThekwini, this will be your last chance this year! Email volunteer@wearedurban.com for more information.

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