Bytes helps Sanzaf take its charity online

Bytes Systems Integration has played an instrumental role in taking a faith-based NGO charity, Sanzaf, online in an application development exercise.

January 17, 2012

Bytes Systems Integration has played an instrumental role in taking a faith-based NGO charity, Sanzaf, online in an application development exercise.

Sanzaf (South African National Zakáh Fund) strives to empower needy families through the efficient collection and effective distribution of Zakáh (a compulsory annual poor tax in Islam) and other – Sadaqát (voluntary charity) – in a proactive and cost-effective way through projects – with dignity, sincerity and a shared responsibility. Its core activity is the administration for the collection and distribution of funds to the needy. It gathers around R65 million a year in various types of donations, from cash to kind.

Sanzaf is the single largest registered public benefit organisation of its kind in South Africa. Its chief purpose is to collect and distribute Zakáh, a tax of 2.5% on a Muslim’s wealth to assist the needy and destitute. It was established in 1974, and has 17 offices in the Western Cape and 32 throughout the country.

The organisation manages the largest feeding operation of its kind in South Africa. Over Ramadan, chicken, fresh produce and canned food are earmarked for distribution to 20 000 families and 75 000 poor people.  Importantly, while Sanzaf is a faith-based NGO, it does not limit its charitable work to Muslims only.

Prior to the new, online receipting system, there was inadequate management of  donor information. There was little or no IT infrastructure, especially at satellite offices, and it was impossible to market to prospective donors, report cogently on current donor activity, or perform proper business intelligence, says Derek Zellie, business unit manager – Microsoft Development and Integration Services at Byte Systems Integration.
“Donations were recorded on paper, with a great deal of repetition of work,” notes Zellie. “Distributions were made in an uneven manner, based on a social worker’s report, but with no tight control back to the central system.”

Sanzaf was using Pastel at its Salt River head office, where documents were sent for processing, which carried the potential for loss or non-processed documents.

In its quest to re-engineeer the organisation as a high impact organisation, SANZAF undertook to revisit its IT systems. Bytes Systems Integration recommended a new system which would automate the process as much as possible, from the capture of data at the point of transaction to the actual transfer of data into the NGO’s administration system.  Bytes Systems Integration developed the new system in Microsoft’s .NET architecture, at no direct cost to SANZAF.

The system went live in parallel with the existing paper-based system over September and is now running on a self-standing basis in all offices where there are computers, with manual data capture still taking place at non-automated satellite offices and captured centrally.

In a future phase, offices will be issued with handheld devices with which donors can automatically make their payments via pre-issued donor cards.

“The online receipting is a definite plus to SANZAF and will contribute towards the efficiency of the organisation,” says Amien Jacobs, executive director of Sanzaf.