The Multi Agency Grant-making Initiative (MAGI) was established in June 2006 out of the realisation that despite the potentially impactful development work undertaken by community-based organisations (CBOs), many of whom are community advice offices (CAO’s), many do not operate sustainably because of poor capacity and inadequate resources – and tend to have a short lifespan thus limiting their potential to effect lasting change Because many CBOs are not properly registered and thus do not meet statutory compliance, their capacity to attract donor funding is limited. Those that are registered struggle to attract funding because of the poor financial systems and accountability mechanisms. Most funders require sound governance, financial and project monitoring systems to commit funding. Because many CBOs lack these systems, they tend to be mostly are sustained by the personal contributions of their pioneers, local businesses and the community leaders who drive them. Unfortunately, this reinforces the weak organisational and administrative capacities.
Given these perpetual challenges, there is a broad perception amongst funders that CBOs are a high-risk investment when compared with established NGOs. The poor funding of CBOs has resulted in many good initiatives being abandoned and stifled community agency, when individuals do not see the actualisation of their end goal in their self-initiated developmental initiatives.
Through the MAGI programme, Hlanganisa Institute of Development in Southern Africa (Hlanganisa) has been able to bridge this gap through acting as a conduit for CBO funding and providing the critical capacity building and mentorship required to build their skills and sustainability. In its 12 years of existence, MAGI has managed to sustain a record of effective grant making and capacity-building support to community-based organizations and Community advice offices. The MAGI’s primary role is to contribute towards strengthening the active voice and agency of local communities in shaping their own development, alongside other critical role players in government and civil society. MAGI uses its consortium approach to promote a stronger and more sustainable CBO sector through grant making support, capacity building, partnership-building and monitoring and evaluation. MAGI provides direct support to community based organisations (CBOs), as well as less formalised community structures, including national campaigns that impact rural and marginalised urban based women, men, girls and boys.