Finding ways to make NPOs sustainable

Tina Thiart (Supplied)
Tina Thiart (Supplied)

Cape Town - Tina Thiart has over 25 years of experience in the non-profit sector – both in South Africa and internationally.

She co-founded HGG NPO Sustainability Solutions to offer a forward-thinking approach to the distinctive needs and requirements of non-profit organisations (NPOs).
She understands the immense challenges faced by NPOs and are geared to provide tailor-made services to work towards sustainability.

She is the coordinator of, a philanthropic network in South Africa.

Since 2003 she has organised meetings of the network where corporate social investment practitioners and grantmakers meet to discuss grantmaking practices and partnerships.
Tina is one of the founder members of the Southern African Community Grantmakers Leadership Forum (SACGLF) and has been working as the coordinator of the SACGLF since 2010.
She believes in investing in women and organises the 1 000 Women United Against Domestic Violence Initiative and fund campaigns for the Women’s Hope Education and Training (Wheat) Trust.
Tina is the general secretary of Wings (Worldwide Initiative for Networks of Grantmaking Support Organisations), an international network where she is serving on the Community Foundation research group. She is also part of the Status Report on Community Foundations.

In addition, she is a member of the Wings Sustainability Committee and a member of the Planning Committee for the 2014 Wings Forum.

Tina is also part of the Global Institutional Philanthropy Status Report.

Fin24 asked Tina about her journey as a social entrepreneur.
How did you become an entrepreneur?

I like to find new ways of doing things. To tell you the truth, I am a good starter and got involved with a number of organisations on a part time basis.

This provided me with the opportunity to set up a business. Some of my friends liked my business and joined me as associates.

Once again I was looking for a different business model to follow.

In January 2014 I joined us with a group of companies HG Group as they were able to provide my clients with the services they need at affordable rates and provide more solutions to the NPO sector.

Many people think access to funding is the problem that NPOs face, but I am of the opinion that NPOs need to pay attention to governance, compliances and marketing and the money will follow.

Do good work or as Ghandi said “if the cause is right, the money will follow”.

What were the challenges?

The biggest challenge was to find affordable office accommodation. We joined Clovelly Country Club and they provided us with the space for an office and today we are very privilege to be at the Clovelly country Club with the most fantastic view and environment.

In the beginning I decided to give women returning to work after being stay-at-home-moms and young people the opportunity to work with me.

This in itself created many problems: Although we did very well and love working together, the returning moms found it difficult to keep regular hours and the young people needed lots of capacity building.

Delivering on contracts became a challenge and I had to start outsourcing. Now I enjoy working with  a lot of women, who work from home and who do part-time work.

What is your recipe for success?

Be aware of the market. How is it changing and what opportunities does it provide? Be open minded and keep inventing and innovating.

What gap did you see in the market?

NPOs faced many challenges and their funding was affected by the economic downturn. Many organisations downsized and with that there were gaps in what they could do.

So I provide the opportunity for outsourcing and part time work. I also focused on the smaller organisations – they were the hardest hit by the funding crises and needed support and experience the most. I started with these smaller NPOs.

Also, every NPO that we worked with became part of our family. All our clients still ask our advice and we still provide mentorship for younger staff members in the organisations.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Be innovative. Do not waste time on small stuff. Be aware that most ideas are not new news, somewhere someone has also tried it.

I get many of the ideas for NPO sustainability from other entrepreneurs. Just be interested in what other people do.

Talk to people. Tell them what you need an what you will come.
What are your future plans?

I want to build a fundraising academy and make sure fundraisers are professional and have academic training and want to do it well.

- Fin24

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