Non profits that are struggling to successfully apply for
funding from the National Lottery Board (NLB) should persevere in
their attempts – even if it means finding a public
interest lawyer to stand in their corner.
That's according to Louise Bick, public interest lawyer at
Werksmans Attorneys, who refers to a recent judgment in which the
Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal made by the NLB.
At the appeal the NLB tried to refuse to approve certain grant
applications made by registered charities including the South
African Education and Environment Project (SAEP) and the Claremont
Methodist Church Social Impact Ministry (Sikhula Sonke).
The NLB has been called to task in the judgement regarding
applications for funding made by the two charities. Several issues
have been highlighted in the process:
Major under-expenditure and consistent failure to meet targets
by the NLB;
Time delays in assessing the applications under review for 13
months, seven months and four months respectively;
Failure by NLB officials to make a "single telephone
call" that could clarify a contentious issue and instead
declining applications merely on the basis that:
An abbreviation of the charity's name was used in some
instances instead of the same name throughout (as required by the
The financial statements provided were not signed;
The 'auditor' be recognised as one of three
professional bodies prescribed in the regulations but not
prescribed clearly in the guideline;
NLB officials applying a "formulaic approach to the
application of guidelines, treating them as 'peremptory
requirements' without exception".
Bick says that although not all non profits have the resources
to step into the ring and defend themselves against the heavy
hitters, the required legal resources can be found in the Public
Interest Departments of law firms. These organisations often
qualify for pro bono assistance if they fall within the parameter
of the applicable Law Society rules.
Bick expands, "Organisations in Gauteng, Mpumalanga,
Limpopo and the North West Provinces can qualify for pro bono
assistance if they are working 'for the public interest' or
'to secure or to protect human rights which are mainly funded
by donations' or are 'groups who cannot afford to pay for
legal assistance and would otherwise be denied access to
It is when this fighting spirit of charities is matched with the
legal resources of a large law firm that bodies such as the NLB can
be brought to task.
Recently Child Welfare stepped into the ring with the NLB when
its CEO commented on a trend of large charitable organisations
becoming dependent on NLB funding by saying, "If you take
Child Welfare nationally, they probably receive between R80-million
and R100-million from us. Now they believe we should continue
funding them. They have completely stopped all their other
Bick comments "Child Welfare issued an immediate response
setting the record straight by stating that it had only received
R16.5 million in total from the NLB since its inception in 2001.
Child Welfare also raised, "the lack of consistency in terms
of amounts received in relation to amounts applied for", as
well as the "sometimes extended delays in receiving
grants" as issues which have a further impact on funding.
"Child Welfare should be applauded for their prompt and
pertinent response. I encourage all non-profit organisations
who are struggling with funding applications on all levels to seek
legal advice for the betterment of those they serve,"
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