Non-profit organisations cannot afford to manage their projects in an unsustainable way. Effective management is essential. This involves having the ability to attract, secure and retain funding, and applying sound management principles and good governance to enable effective delivery to clients. Unfortunately it is often due to mismanagement that NPOs do not stay viable in the longer term. It was in the light of this reality that four MBA students of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), Wayne Davis (3rd year Part-time), Nico Grobbelaar (4th year Modular English), Heinrich Holt (4th year Modular bilingual) and Jan-Paul Roodbol (2nd year Part-time), who in 1999 won the prestigious Bain Consulting Competition, decided to use their R 50 000 prize-money as seed capital for a project that would make a difference.
Thanks to these four students, a vehicle was created specifically to assist the non-profit organisation community. They designed and offered a management development programme specifically aimed at the needs of non-profit organisations. Since its inception the programme has become so successful that it is now presented twice a year as a combined activity of a committee of USB alumni, the USB and USB Executive Development.
The initiative has now been running for the past 14 years. In 2008, the committee commissioned an evaluation of the programme. The outcome of the evaluation, based on interviews, found that the course had been a valuable initiative and contribution to the NPO sector. The evaluation itself was well timed as NPOs are facing new and different challenges and need new skills to respond to the issues arising from a changing context. NPOs play a vital role in society and need people with the right skills and understanding to ensure that these organisations are resilient. As one interviewee put it: “NPOs are becoming career options for many people, thus it would be vital that the training that is provided is adequately pitched to provide the much-needed enhancement and capacity-building to the sector.”
The programme is updated on a yearly basis to ensure that the content stays current. The programme is currently offered at a cost of R1 800 (excluding VAT). This is largely made possible by the generosity and vision of those involved in the running of the programme:
- The majority of the faculty members provide their facilitation services free of charge
- The USB provides the venue for the programme at no cost
- The director of the USB, through his office, provides administrative support for the programme
- The alumni committee which organises the programme does this work voluntarily
- USB-ED provides the quality assurance as well as the certificates and stationery at no cost
- The catering provided by Fedics is discounted
Along with the reduced costs, there is a further advantage: the two programme participants who perform best in their assignments may send a colleague from their organisation to attend the programme during the next year, at no charge. Furthermore, the USB’s Future Fund provides bursaries for four participants per year.
While the acts of generosity mentioned above go a long way to keeping the cost of the programme down, the sustainability of this programme lies primarily in the hands of the USB alumni and corporate donors who continue to strive to be responsible citizens. The alumni serving on the management committee of the programme truly believe that this initiative provides corporate companies with the opportunity to align their own social investments with making a significant difference to the lives of communities through the strengthening of NPOs. The philosophy of paying it forward has driven the activities of the committee since its inception – and through the sponsorship of corporate companies the reach of the programme can only be further expanded.
If you want more information about this initiative for the purposes of sponsorship, or you would like to register to attend the next programme, kindly visit the programme page
or contact Jeanne Kuhn on 021 918 4288 or firstname.lastname@example.org