Brand South Africa partners with civil society organisations like SANGONeT to make a difference in communities across the country.SANGONeT recently hosted an ICT summit, looking at how technology can help NGOs do their work better. (Image: Pexels.com)Phindi MadunaBrand South Africa partnered with the Southern African Non-Governmental Organisations Network (SANGONeT) to celebrate 30 years since it was established, hosting a three-day NGO-ICT summit in Benoni this month.SANGONeT is an NGO that was established in 1987 to connect civil society organisations in Africa. It remains one of very few NGOs in Africa involved in the Information Communication Technologies (ICT) field and continues to serve civil society with a wide range of products and services.“Civil society organisations are key channels through which active citizenship is carried out. Brand South Africa’s partnerships with civil society organisations enable us to fulfil our domestic mandate of collaborating with ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things in their communities. Partnerships like these with SANGONet help us enhance the image and reputation of the country,” says Mpumi Mabuza, Brand South Africa’s General Manager: Stakeholder Relations.NGOs have historically played their part in contributing to the reputation of the country through various programmes that were aimed at tackling South Africa’s socio-economic issues. They continue to do this today, but many have not made the necessary adaptions to better equip themselves to meet their objectives.One of the challenges that SANGONet continues to face, since its establishment, is that the civil society sector is made up of organisations that struggle to understand the strategic importance of ICT for the development of relationships, distribution of information and strengthening the impact of the important work that they do. In order to address this, the summit was held under the theme “ICT as a strategic tool towards NGO’s sustainability”. It brought together members of government, civil society and business to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities of using ICT for the advancement of socio-economic development in South Africa.The continuous evolution of the ICT sector has changed the way organisations are run. According to SANGONet, only a small percentage NGOs are equipped with the necessary ICT capacity and expertise required to support their development work. The potential impact of ICT on the work of NGOs remains limited.The use of ICT is a form of capacity building for NGOs in that skills must continue to be improved. This includes governance, administration, programme development and implementation, fund-raising, collaboration, marketing, and planning. When strategically used, ICT can go a long way in strengthening the work of NGOs so that they can reach their objectives and thus be sustainable.