CSOs Ought to Plan for Compliance

Published By UNNGOF |  September 14, 2022

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are voluntary entities formed by people in the social sphere that are separate from the state and the market. They can include community-based organizations as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and represent a wide range of interests, passion and ties. CSOs thus provide vehicles or space for people to participate in development and social change in ways that would not be possible through conventional government programs.

However, as they engage in this development process, they are expected to comply with guidelines or frameworks set by different regulators for example; Uganda Registration Services Bureau, NGO Bureau, Finance Intelligence Authority, Uganda Revenue Authority, and National Social Security Fund, to mention but a few.

Over the years, majority of NGOs have invested a lot of energies in developing work plans for activity implementation while paying very little attention to the regulatory obligations and this affects their relations with the government. With the evolving NGO regulatory framework in Uganda, it is therefore extremely imperative for NGOs to ensure their annual work plans and budgets cater for compliance and where possible, appoint a full time staff whose job is to track compliance.

Sense-Making Policy Paper Two[1] puts across a very profound call –

CSOs and philanthropic organizations must seek to be both procedurally and substantively legitimate, effective and sustainable in what they do in the communities they serve”.

As part of membership servicing, UNNGOF under its Philanthropy for Development Programme thus undertook compliance clinics in June – August 2022 where over 60 Organizations were supported to conduct a quick legal health check and provide instant remedies. They also received copies of legal books that will enhance their compliance efforts.

The exercise was greatly appreciated as evidenced by some of the emerging insights;

 “This visit has enabled me to have a detailed understanding of some of the clauses within our governance documents; we have been keeping them without detailed reference to them,” a member noted.

Another member said, “This is an eye opener to us and kind of an alarm clock reminding us of our obligations. Thank you for this learning and empowering session, we didn’t know how sensitive these laws were.”

 “We want to thank UNNGOF for this session, we are also a membership-based organization and have never done such an initiative for our members. We have picked a leaf and shall therefore cascade this model to our members.” a member appreciated.

In a bid to build a vibrant CSO sector, UNNGOF will periodically undertake compliance clinics to boost the legitimacy of its member organizations. In line with this, UNNGOF intends to launch the #BeLegit Campaign to further enhance the credibility of CSOs.