In South Africa, 2020 has probably been the year in which communities, individuals and small businesses have needed NPOs the most – it has also been the year in which NPOs have been under the most severe pressure in trying to cater for the demand.
As the demand for the services of NPOs increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic, their funding also decreased. The support of companies, philanthropists and individuals became increasingly important to help them help those who are dependent on them.
To meet this very desperate need, the Mergon Group established the Gap Fund in March 2020 as a distribution platform for small grants that financially support indispensable NPOs throughout the crisis. The Gap Fund aims to assist NPOs who are in dire need of financial support to make it through the COVID-19 pandemic, so that post COVID-19 there are enough well-established NPOs who can step in and start rebuilding our nation and its people.
Mergon has a long history of working with carefully selected NPO partners that have a track record of delivering essential services to communities in need. To date, the fund has raised more than R7 million.
According to Keri-Leigh Paschal the executive director of Nation Builder, a Mergon Group initiative, they recently surveyed 733 NPOs in a single 24-hour period to determine how they were coping in the midst of Covid-19.
Paschal says that 61% of the NPOs reported an increase in project costs and an increase in their organisational overheads. As many as 72% indicated that their funding had decreased and 61% said that they had no access to government funding.
So far, the Gap fund has managed to raise just over R7 million. Donations were collected through a Back a Buddy fundraising account, as well as from philanthropist and corporate partners.
‘From April to September, the Gap Fund has been able to support more than 90 NPOs,’ says Paschal.
One such NPO, currently being supported by the Gap Fund, is NOAH (Neighbourhood Old Age Homes). Hundreds of social pensioners are dependent on them to help meet their health and social needs. NOAH has 11 communal homes for pensioners in the greater Cape Town area as well as community centres in Woodstock and Khayelitsha that offer a place of belonging and socialising.
So far, the Gap Fund will be supporting NPOs like NOAH until early next year. However, they would like to do this for much longer, depending on the amount of donations received.
‘As a company, we will also be donating all our ticket sales of our 6th annual ‘In Good Company’ virtual conference on 17 and 18 September to the Gap Fund,’ says Paschal.
So how do NPOs or equivalent community organisations access these funds?
‘There isn’t a long list of criteria,’ says Paschal. ‘Organisations that are struggling to survive the Covid-19 crisis or those that are delivering indispensable emergency services or resources during the crisis might be eligible. The amount of organisations that can be assisted financially however relies heavily on the amount of donations the GAP fund receives.’
Organisations will also need to meet the following criteria:
- They need to be a government-registered NPO or equivalent organisation.
- They have to be able to provide proof of their bank account.
‘The NPO sector plays such an important role in our society,’ says Paschal. ‘It is important to support them during this time, and to learn from them, to trust their advice, and to partner with them in our approach going forward. Donations are welcome to help support these changemakers of our society.’
To donate to the Gap Fund or to apply for funding, go to https://mergon.co.za/gapfund/