Whether it’s a state-of-the-art recording studio for local artists, a pristine soccer field in a remote rural area, or a beautiful residential facility for recovering addicts, the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) invests in projects that do a lot of good to develop and empower our communities, particularly for the poor and marginalized.
“I feel like we are making a positive difference in the lives of our country’s most vulnerable citizens, as well as supporting and affirming the dedicated and selfless people who work in the non-profit sector,” says Sarah Hugow, head of the Research and Development and Monitoring and Evaluation unit of the NLC.
Sarah joined the NLC in October 2009 as the provincial manager in the Eastern Cape provincial office, which she set up. In September 2018 she was redeployed to Head Office in Pretoria to head up the newly established Research and Development and Monitoring and Evaluation unit.
“My job is to develop and implement the research, knowledge management, and impact monitoring strategy for the organisation, to commission research projects and external impact evaluations, and to ensure dissemination and dialogue regarding the findings of these endeavors to assist in evidence-based policy and strategy development and knowledge creation,” Sarah explains.
According to Sarah, they have two primary mandates. The first is to regulate the National Lottery and all lotteries in South Africa, ensuring the protection of players and the integrity of the lottery system. The second is to distribute funds from the proceeds of the National Lottery to public benefit organisations in a fair, sustainable, and impactful manner. “We fund three main sectors, Charities; Arts, Culture and National Heritage; and Sport and Recreation. There is also a smaller Miscellaneous fund, mainly for emergency funding. We work closely with the distributing agencies to research, conceptualise, design, implement, and review the funding calls for applications that are issued annually, as well as the pro-active funding strategy.”
Hugow says one of the most impactful programmes she has worked on is their Early Childhood Development (ECD) Legacy project, where NLC funded the construction of 85 state-of-the-art ECD centers that can accommodate up to 120 children. “This project has benefited poor kids and their families by ensuring a safe, conducive, and attractive learning environment for the children. The pre-school phase is critical for the development of toddlers and children, as it helps to build foundational social learning and skills for success at school. We also sponsored the training of ECD practitioners at the Centers so that they could obtain or upgrade their qualifications.”
Hugow who is attending the Great Funders Conference this year says her aim at the conference is to share the NLC’s funding parameters with the non-profit organisations, as well as to introduce a new initiative she is working on, which is establishing an association for Grantmakers in South Africa.
“I’m very excited about that,” says Hugow who believes in equality, fairness and social justice. She is strongly committed to building a democratic, peaceful, and non-racial society and to her unit’s purpose statement, which is to ‘enhance organisational impact, decision-making and learning capabilities through effective research, monitoring and evaluation’.
Photographer: Robyn Davie