Research Approach


In our survey we have focused on community-based NPOs in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape. The focus on community-based organisations is motivated by the research aim of examining accountability and particularly downward accountability. A provincial selection was necessary due to budgetary constraints. We opted to survey NPOs in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape due to logistical considerations balanced by the need to select provinces that would be broadly representative of the variety of communities and NPOs within South Africa.

A random sample of communities was selected based on main place level data from the 2011 Census, stratified by community types. The community typology was derived via cluster analysis. The survey included 195 NPOs. The number of NPOs interviewed in each community was proportional to the population share of the community. In each community a sampling frame of NPOs was compiled via a snowballing process, starting with combining lists of NPOs operating in this community using information from the NPO register, the community development officer and the NGO forum office. We limited the sample of NPOs to registered organisations delivering social services to this community.

We also conducted focus group discussions to obtain the community perspective and to understand how the community feels about these NPOs. Due to the demands of qualitative analysis, the team has not completed this analysis and the report is therefore focused on reporting the findings from the NPO survey. Lastly, to supplement the small and limited literature on the South African NPO sector, we conducted interviews with seven key decision makers in the NPO sector. The interviews were structured around a number of open ended questions about the state of sector, its challenges and the role of accountability.