The NPO Directorate within the Department of Social Development registers organisations under the Non-Profit Organisations Act No. 71 of 1997. The primary purpose of this Act is to encourage and support organisations in a wide range of work they do by:
- Creating an enabling environment for NPOs to flourish.
- Setting and maintaining adequate standards of governance, accountability and transparency.
The Act provides a voluntary registration facility for NPOs.
A non-profit organisation is defined as: a trust, company or other association of persons: (a) established for a public purpose, and (b) the income and property of which are not distributable to its members or office bearers except as reasonable compensation for services rendered.
Any organisation that is not for profit and is not part of government can apply for registration; that is:
- Non-governmental organisations (NGO).
- Community-based organisations (CBO).
- Faith-based organisations (FBO).
- Organisations that have registered as Section 21 companies under the Company Act 61 of 1973.
- Trusts that have registered with Master of the Supreme Court under the Trust Property Control Act 57 of 1988.
- Any other voluntary association that is not for profit.
The directorate can only register an organisation that has a constitution or any other founding document.
It would take about two months to process the entire registration. Immediately on receipt of application, an acknowledgement letter is send to the organisation; thereafter, a registration certificate follows if the application meets the requirements of the NPO Act.
Registering a non-profit organisation is free of charge.
By submitting to the NPO Directorate:
- A complete application form (obtainable from the department).
- Two copies of the organisation’s founding document ie a constitution or a deed of trust or memorandum and articles of association.
There are many benefits to be gained from a system of registering non-profit organisations. It:
- Improves the credibility of the sector because NPOs can account to a public office.
- Brings organisations into a formal system.
- Helps the sector to get organised.
- Helps in finding ways of getting benefits like tax incentives and funding opportunities.