Sustainability the key for social investment in 2021

COVID-19 tested South Africa’s social investment space in 2020. While we learned several key lessons that we can take forward into 2021, we also realised that resilience, adaptability and sustainability are going to be critical to get us through the coming year and beyond.

So what are the key trends we can expect in the coming year?

More than ever, NPOs need to increase their resilience

2020 saw the entire social investment sector innovating and adjusting like never before simply to survive. In 2021, the need for support is only increasing, and implementing partners remain stretched. For funders, it’s a time to contribute toward building capacity and providing psychological support in the NPOs to increase their resilience to ensure the organisation can make it through 2021 while continuing to support the most vulnerable sectors of our society.

A bigger focus on measuring impact

As funding slows and social needs increase, NPOs and social investors are looking to measure the impact of their efforts and investments more effectively. To support this need, more than 95 NPOs and businesses from the Nation Builder Community are working to establish a standardised reporting guideline for impact management reporting. This guideline, to be launched in March 2021, will set a solid foundation for alignment on reporting approaches in the sector.

We will also launch an impact management reporting masterclass series in May 2021. These masterclasses will take participants on a deep dive into the various aspects of impact reporting. Our aim with these products, which will be freely available on our website, is to ensure that every investment of time or resources helps achieve long-term, sustainable change in the lives of those who need it the most.

More collaboration for greater impact

2020 was a catalyst for collaboration across NPOs and the social investment community, and we anticipate that this trend will only continue to grow in the year ahead. This is mainly due to the sector’s reduced resources and greater need, which is making everyone re-evaluate their approach, focus on their core skills and partner with others to achieve far greater outcomes and impact with the resourcing available.

Welcome to the world of virtual events

We’ve also seen that virtual events are here to stay. We will host in-person events where possible, but our eyes have been opened to the possibilities and benefits that virtual events bring.

2020 was one of the most challenging years the South African social investment sector has ever faced. But by taking the lessons we’ve learned on board, we’re ready to face 2021 as a more resilient and sustainable sector, ensuring the best possible support of the most vulnerable in our nation.

Keri-Leigh Paschal, executive trustee of Nation Builder