When Jenny approached me to make myself available to serve on the Sparrows board again in 2020 after an absence, I agreed happily, thinking that – as usual – I would be the secretary. After agreeing, she asked if I would be the chairperson. I said no.
To my dismay and her delight, I happened to miss the first board meeting after the SGM where the new board was elected during Covid. She was positively gleeful when she informed me after the meeting that I had been elected as chairperson in my absence.
At the time, neither of us knew what lay ahead.
We have won some battles, lost some others, and on some fronts, we are still preparing for battle. What we can be certain of, is that the war on abuse and neglect of children will not be settled in our lifetime, but it is a war that Sparrows will fight until either it can no more, or until it is won. We are a bit like Ukraine in that way.
I am confident about the road ahead.
Despite winning awards for good governance, we are strengthening governance each month. Future board members will be carefully recruited, trained and inducted to ensure that the organisation has the best, most inclusive, most diverse leadership at the highest level who know their roles and responsibilities.
In line with that, current board members completed training in governance with Third Sector Insights this past calendar year.
We have also embarked on a process to register Sparrows as an NPC, which has its own stringent requirements on board members, with actionable legal recourse should they fail in their duties. The NPC will be registered as “Sparrows Child and Youth Care Centre” as decided by members at an SGM in 2021, shortening the current cumbersome “Child Welfare South Africa, Tsolwana and Sparrows Child and Youth Care Centre.” The registration is at an advanced stage and should conclude before the end of this financial year.
The NPC registration is an extension of the current NPO registration – Sparrows will be registered as both. All assets will be transferred to the NPC, keeping current agreements with Child Welfare South Africa around transfer of property should Sparrows cease to exist.
In line with the corporate direction the NPC registration is taking us in, we have appointed Nopasika Bhazana as Executive Director, and moved Jenny van Heerden to the position of Development Director. In NPO-speak, that is “Manager” and “Fundraiser.”
Nopasika is immensely qualified to steer Sparrows into this new territory, and we cannot wait to embark fully on this road with her.
Fundraising has been identified as a priority area for Sparrows for many years. Some members may remember that we employed a fundraiser in Ms Mulder some years ago. Unfortunately, she left the organisation and the position was never filled again. Until now.
Jenny will be working from home, fundraising from local and international grant donors aligned with the Sparrows mission. This is not a golden parachute to create income for her while she semi-retires. While she will earn a basic salary, there is a commission component per relevant application submitted, ensuring that there is a results-based remuneration structure. Apart from that, normal reporting procedures will apply, and she will be held accountable.
The board is also embarking on the establishment of various committees to assist with and make recommendations on its responsibilities. Governance is one aspect that is a board’s responsibility, but so are compliance and monitoring. To this end, we are currently reviewing the legal framework within which Sparrows operates, and will develop and publish policies on our website to remove any gray areas that currently may exist.
I would like to encourage members and the Tarkastad community to become involved in the committees, so that they may have a real sense of ownership of the organisation and its future.
We are committed to transparency and the highest ethical standards, which we aim to build into the foundation of the newly established NPC for future boards to build on.
“Change happens at the speed of trust.”
– Stephen R. Covey