NPOwer team members Kevin “Suppa” Petrona, Rajesh Chintaman, Jose Sommers and Milou Scheeren reviewing the data collected by the survey “State of Affairs” of non-profit organisations (NPOs) in St. Maarten.
PHILIPSBURG--“We can do better working together” is one of the main takeaways from the recently concluded large-scale survey conducted by NPOwer on the “State of Affairs” of non-profit organisations (NPOs) in St. Maarten.
NPOwer, a Foresee Foundation programme, has analysed data collected and found that the survey facilitated a lot of soul-searching by the NPO community on the island. “This survey really allowed us as NPOs to self-assess, reflect on what’s happening in our sector and the impact we are having and how we can do better,” said NPOwer’s coordinator Jose Sommers, indicating that a vast majority of respondents to the survey believe that their respective organisations can improve collaboration with other non-profits.
“We often take for granted that we are not alone in doing good things for the island,” Sommers said. “We stay in our own corner, doing what is best for our cause, fighting the good fight for our cause. But according to the survey, we recognise that we need to become creative in our collaborations with each other in the NPO sector. The data collected will and can facilitate very productive dialogue amongst the public/private funding agencies and civil society sectors.”
NPOwer launched the “State of Affairs” survey in June 2022, reaching out to 260 St. Maarten-based NPOs connected to the NPOwer database. The aim was to secure a minimum of 100 respondents, about one-third of the database, Sommers said.
The survey closed on August 15 and yielded 113 responses from 93 organisations, a substantial representation of the active non-profit sector on the Dutch part of the island.
Funded by Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben, the survey provides an overall view of the impact of this sector on country St. Maarten, an insight into the sector’s working relationships with other key sectors of the island and an evaluation of NPOwer’s work and future.
“It is important to recognise that NPOwer has no intention to vilify any particular sector, but to use the findings as a foundation for discussions and to positively influence change for the better,” Sommers stressed.
The main part of survey focused on the connections NPOs have with various stakeholders. The identified stakeholders were other NPOs, funding agencies, public and private sectors, Chamber of Commerce, banks and the Tax Department.
The vast majority of survey participants reported that they operate as a small or medium-sized organisation. The largest sectors represent services connected to community development, education and training, care for vulnerable groups, arts, culture and heritage.
Offering insight into some of the data gathered: In terms of communication with the private sector/business community, more than 70% of participants believe there is a need for better communication. While some NPOs feel supported by the private sector, this is mainly financial support in the form of donations (money or in kind). There is a need for a more supportive business community as it relates to giving employees a chance to volunteer.
However, NPOs feel less supported by the public sector with more than 70% indicating that their communication and collaboration with government should be improved. NPOs that receive subsidies feel relatively supported, but many of the NPOs that do not rely on government for financial aid believe that government is unresponsive to requests, hard to connect with and is encumbered by too much red tape.
More than half of the NPOs surveyed have been supported financially by one or more funding agencies besides the private sector in the past three years. While elaborating, a large cross-section of NPOs describe their relationship with funding agencies as “good”, but have raised concerns that the high demand for paperwork and reporting cause a heavy burden on already-thin resources. While thankful for funding, managing the reporting and administration takes a toll on their capacity as it relates to their core mandate.
Most NPOs are registered at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI). However, the majority believe they are not adequately represented within COCI and believe they should have the same rights as other registered entities such as businesses, because NPOs pay the same fees.
The NPO sector has continued to make positive impacts to the island’s benefit. “It is with this in mind that NPOwer created this survey as part of its strategic plan to see NPOs strengthen their approach and presence through capacity building, network building and connectivity building,” said Sommers. “The findings will be shared with all participants and NPOwer looks forward to further discussion on the findings in the survey with various stakeholders.”
NPOwer, notable for the slogan “where NPOs connect”, is located at Illidge Road #60, Unit 1 in the shared offices of Resources 4 Community Resilience (R4CR) and Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben. For more information contact the NPOwer team at