Exploring NPOs in community service : a communication management approach
Mopeloa, Kelebogile Patience
MetadataShow full item record
South Africa’s developmental social welfare policy relies largely on NPOs to deliver social welfare services to poor and vulnerable people and populations who are at risk (Patel, 2012:603). In South Africa, neither Government nor the business sector, are able to deliver on these needs. This factor highlights the important role that NPOs fulfil in solving social problems and responding to the needs in their communities (Department of Social Development, 2001; Grønbjerg & Paarlberg, 2001: 684). In addition, NPOs are purpose driven and therefore aim to make the maximum impact in their communities. In this case ‘impact’ refers to the societal intervention in addressing the main causes of social problems and bringing about lasting positive change in people’s lives (Ebrahim & Rangan, 2010:3). In order for non-profits to exert significant impact, they must be willing to work outside the limitations of their organisations and not merely be confined to managing their internal operations (Grunt & Crutchfield, 2007:35). It is thus crucial that NPOs achieve their organisational goals and serve the public purpose, and thereby strengthen their impact in their communities. The purpose of the present study was to explore how strategic communication management can help NPOs make a stronger impact in society. In the field of communication management, the systems theory is used as meta-theory on which to base the strategic communication management and two-way symmetrical theory as theoretical framework for the present study. The study is placed within the phenomenological paradigm, seeing that the impact of the NPOs is understood in terms of the lived experiences of participants from the NPOs themselves, as well as from the selected community members. The study investigated whether the NPOs “… help bring about mutually beneficial changes in the attitudes and behaviours of both the publics and the organisation” (Grunig et al., 2001:188). As the case is with most profit organisations, theories such as stakeholder management theory can also be applied to the non-profit sector to help ensure the success and sustainability of such organisations. The present study utilised semi-structured interviews targeting four NPOs as well as eight community members, who are connected with the particular NPOs. The data was analysed thematically according to the constructs identified in the relevant literature. Furthermore, this study utilised the qualitative research method to explore the experiences and feelings of the participants. The study found that participating NPOs did not manage communication strategically. This was mainly due to a lack of funding for communication practitioners; therefore also a lack of capacity to take care of strategic communication management. NPOs tended to over-emphasise their dependence on funders, which to a large extend negates their interrelatedness to the community. It is suggested that, although funding for an NPO is crucial, such an organisation should also focus on partnering with the community to strengthen their impact. According to the principles of corporate rights and effects, managers must act in the interests of stakeholders and involve stakeholders in decision-making related to the organisation’s objectives. NPOs should create value by serving the interests of, and working with all their stakeholders, which implies active participation and input from all parties concerned. In this regard, the strategic communication management function is key for the success of NPOs as service providers.
- Humanities