DGMT NGO Commons - A Resource for Enhancing Good Governance and Accountability

A Resource for Enhancing Good Governance and Accountability

Registering as a Nonprofit Organisation (NPO): why, with whom and how?

A nonprofit organisation registers with the Department of Social Development (the Nonprofit Organisations Directorate).

Once registered, the organisation’s details appear on the Register of Nonprofit Organisations, which is available to the public to access. Although registration is voluntary, it is worth remembering that donors often ask to see a registration certificate, as it provides some confidence that the organisation is able to prove that it has been properly set up and that proper management structures have been put in place.

To register, organisations must be able to provide the NPO Directorate with a:

  • completed application form (see link under Useful Documents)
  • two copies of the organisations founding document or constitution. It is very important that the Founding Document meets the requirements of Section 12 of the Act. A checklist is included in the application form, to help you with this.

Remember, the organisation’s founding document must:

  1. state the organisation’s name
  2. state the organisation’s main and ancillary objectives
  3. declare that the organisation’s income and property are not distributable to its members or office-bearers, except as reasonable compensation for services rendered
  4. make provision for the organisation to have an identity distinct from its members or office bearers
  5. make provision for the organisation’s continued existence notwithstanding changes in the composition of its members or office-bearers
  6. ensure that the members or office-bearers have no rights in the property or other assets of the organisation solely by virtue of their being members or office bearers
  7. specify the powers of the organisation
  8. specify the organisational structures and mechanisms of governance
  9. set out the rules of convening and conducting meetings, including quorums required at meetings and the minutes to be kept at those meetings
  10. determine the manner in which decisions are to be made
  11. provide that the organisation’s financial transactions must be conducted by means of a banking account
  12. determine a date for the end of the organisation’s financial year.
  13. set out a procedure for changing the constitution
  14. set out a procedure by which the organisation may be dissolved
  15. provide that, when the organisation is being dissolved, any asset remaining after all its liabilities have been met, must be transferred to another NPO having similar objectives.