The dawn of democracy in 1994 brought hope to South Africans particularly those who had been previously disadvantaged as a result of apartheid policies. This new hope was premised on a vision of creating a people-centred society and a better life for all expressed in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) whose goals were to eliminate poverty and inequalities of the decades of apartheid. In order to meet this vision the RDP made explicit reference to building the capacity of civil society through extensive development of human resource. It provided a central role for nonprofit organizations. A vibrant and diverse civil society is important in consolidating and sustaining democracy as well as in holding government accountable. Since 1994 government has involved civil society in various stages of policy development aimed at alleviating poverty. This study therefore evaluates the extent to which programmes implemented by civil society, particularly in partnership with Social Development, are participative, empowering, effective and sustainable. This research indicates that civil society, have succeeded in mobilizing communities to take charge of their own development. This has been achieved through activities like needs and beneficiary identification, project implementation and fund raising. Despite this success the study shows that civil society experience challenges in ensuring that their programmes are effective and sustainable. These challenges include limited funding, lack of various skills including management skills, organizational skills, resource mobilization and accountability. The study contends that civil society has a critical role in implementing poverty alleviation programmes and in occupying space between the state and the community. In order to ensure long lasting impact of programmes, there is a great need for strengthening the organizational, management and administrative capacity of civil society. It is generally accepted that local organization capacity is recognized as key for development effectiveness and empowerment of the poor.