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DFCU NGO corporate social investment versus CSR

On Friday, 16th March 2018, at the invitation of DFCU Bank, in my capacity as the Managing Director of CPAR Uganda Ltd, a not-for-profit development organisation, I participated in a DFCU Conversation that was themed: “Let’s Talk the Future of NGOs.”

The event that was held at Imperial Royal for executives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to discuss “how NGOs can develop a mindset of an entrepreneur.”


Here I share my thoughts and take away from the Conversation.

In the context of this narrative, the term NGO is used in its broad sense, as in how it is used world over to encompass all organisations that are established not for the personal benefit of those who establish them, but for the benefit of others.

This is as opposed to the definition of NGO in the context of Uganda as an organisation that is registered under the Non-Governmental Organisations Act. Note that the law in Uganda also provides for not-for-profit organisations to register under the Companies Act as companies that are limited by guarantee and in other forms.

Seemingly, DFCU appreciates that the customers or clients of NGOs (those that NGOs proclaim to serve) are often unable themselves to pay the service provider (the NGO) for the services that they receive from the NGO.

This means that there is often a third party who pays NGOs, in order for the NGOs to provide the service to the customer or client; in which case the NGOs are the direct recipients of support from donors in order for them to use the funding to benefit a third party.

Like all other banks, I presume, the relationship between NGOs and DFCU is dual: on the one hand it is a client-service provider relationship and in some cases it is also a recipient-donor relationship. DFCU makes special arrangements in service of NGOs and one way in which it does so is to donate to NGOs by providing services to NGOs at reduced or no cost.

In addition to donating to NGOs through cost reduction, DFCU has made donations in cash or in-kind to NGOs under its corporate social responsibility. In this relationship, DFCU gives a charitable donation in which there is no expectation from or responsibility to the NGO to utilise the donation to generate more money for the NGO to use or more clients for DFCU. The most that DFCU can get out of this would be publicity, which could lead to it getting new clients, if at all.

DFCU would like to strengthen a third kind of giving to NGOs, its “corporate social investment” in which it invests in the NGO through knowledge sharing and access to finance with the aim that the NGO can use the investment to make money for the benefit of those that it serves and moreover in a manner which empowers the clients of NGOs to better their lot; and ultimately also become clients of DFCU as well.

During the conversation, as DFCU made its offer to us, as an NGO executive, questions raced through my mind and they remain on my mind.

How can I

  • Make money to do more not-for-profit work?
  • Do more not-for-profit work without money? As in what can be done without money?
  • Tell others to do that which I or my organisation cannot do? As in how can I tell our clients to make money when I, as an individual or the organisation that I represent do not make money?
  • Get DFCU to genuinely partner with CPAR Uganda Ltd to the extent that we develop proposals together or we synergistically utilise each other’s resident expertise?

Well, the jury is now out. In a year’s time I will reflect and evaluate the extent to which I have the answers to the questions, whether the answers to the questions were feasible, and whether the answers were viably implemented. Will CPAR Uganda Ltd be that NGO of the future with an entrepreneurial mind?

Post featured photo: Mr. William Ssekabembe, DFCU Bank Uganda Chief of Business and Executive Director; and Inline photo: Ms. Norah Owaraga, CPAR Uganda Ltd Managing Director.

By Ms. Norah Owaraga.

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