SGS was instrumental in setting up and managing the Constitutionalism Fund (CF) in South Africa. The CF was known as the Joint Fund to Promote and Advance Constitutionalism in South Africa. A collaboration between The Atlantic Philanthropies, the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundation, with a combined investment of US$25 million to be spent on grant making. At the time, the CF was created with a lifespan of 10 years in mind.
The Constitutionalism Fund focused on three-year core funding cycles to well over 25 grantees working in this space, with the aim to breathe life into the constitution, such that the people of South Africa use it as a living document supporting the substantive promotion and realisation of rights, with particular attention to those who are poor, stigmatised or marginalised. The Fund supported the transformation of organisations and social movements in the field, advocating the importance of them reflecting the values of the constitution and the demographics of the country. The third emphasis was on sustainability of organisations and social movements, in particular their institutional capacities to pursue their goals over the long term, and resilience to withstand inevitable changes in staff, leadership and funders.
SGS provided the administrative home to the CF and managed, along with an independent consultant, and an esteemed board of three persons, the entire grant making cycle, facilitating grants and supporting grantees in the field. SGS spent six years with the Fund, managing two grant cycles of three years, before stepping down by the end of 2021.
Promoting and advancing constitutionalism
The Constitutionalism Fund aims to breath life into the constitution, such that the people of South Africa use it as a living document supporting the substantive promotion and realisation of rights, with particular attention to those who are poor, stigmatised or marginalised. Constitutionalism is about maintaining the rule of law as well as making the promise of the constitution real to the people of our country – both citizens and migrants. It is about rights and responsibilities.
Promoting and advancing constitutionalism requires holding the government, the business sector and civil society accountable to the values and intentions of the constitution. It requires strengthening the capacity of the state for sustaining a legal and regulatory environment that enables the realisation of rights and for delivering or facilitating the delivery of the services for which the constitution holds it responsible. It requires protecting the independence of Chapter Nine institutions whose mandate is to assist in supporting constitutional democracy while holding them accountable for delivering on their mandates
Advancing transformation of the field and its institutions
Transformation of organisations and social movements in this field refers to the importance of them reflecting the values of the constitution and the demographics of the country.
Advancing transformation requires building capacity among organisations and movements to critically reflect on institutional power dynamics in order to ensure that working environments do not discriminate or stigmatise on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, citizenship or anything else. This requires investing in, mentoring, growing and retaining young black people in leadership and second-tier roles in the various NGOs, social movements and community organisations in the field, as well as developing inclusive organisational cultures that recognise and even celebrate difference.
Advancing transformation requires strengthening the voice and capacities of grassroots groups to promote and advance the constitution on their own terms with their own resources, and to expand the range of skilled practitioners – such as researchers and litigators working in service to these groups.
Advancing sustainability of the field and its institutions.
Sustainability of organisations and social movements refers to institutional capacity to pursue their goals over the long term and resilience to withstand inevitable changes in staff, leadership and funders. It refers to the extent to which the external environment is conducive to civil society organising. The following dimensions collectively characterise sustainability
“On behalf of the World Connect Malawi team, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks for the great work and support you rendered to us last week. Your presence made a huge difference and I believe we have planted a seed that will grow exponentially in the coming years. Feel appreciated”.
SGS Consulting has been instrumental in ICA’s growth and development into a Community Foundation of note on the African continent. We’ve made strong strides, we’ve built slowly but we built deliberately and with the support of SGS Consulting we have been able to put in place systems and procedures that have cemented the Community Foundation as one of the strong ones on our continent. We want to appreciate the ongoing and constant support of SGS Consulting over many years to ICA