In case you missed our webinar on the impact of COVID 19 on NGOs here are the highlights of the discussion, also check out Sinking or Swimming on Youtube.
The environment in which the Nongovernmental Organisations operate is not very different from other businesses. When the wind blows on one side, the effects are undoubtedly felt on the other. In such an unprecedented time of the pandemic, it is important to devise means in which our organizations can thrive and come out on the other side amid the disruptions and resource limitations. It is no doubt that most NGOs are facing or are yet to witness the long-term ripple effects from the coronavirus. The big question is, will they, swim or sink, and incase they sink, will they drown?
NGOs are highly dependent on funding (donations and grants) from donors or partners. So during a crisis like the one COVID 19 has created, how do we ensure that the interests of the funder are met alongside those of your project beneficiaries? All donors are different. The needs of the different types of donors differ. For instance how foundations operate is not the same as how individual donors, bilateral or major donors, corporate donors, INGOs among others operate.
Jacqueline Asiimwe the Executive Director of CiviSource Africa and panelist on the webinar noted that now is the time for NGOs to get well acquainted with the nature of their donors by understanding what their interests are. She also urged participants to check on their donors to understand and empathize with them on how they are coping with the times. She said, “This will help build trust and maintain constant communication that helps the transition from the business as usual.” Jackie added that all NGOs should by now entertain the possibility that some of their funders could be immensely affected by the crisis resulting in the withdrawal of their pledged support.” During times of crisis, these donors are also intently affected but arguably differently. She also urged NGOs to endeavor to devise new ways to meet the different deliverables they set out to achieve under the arrangement with their donors and not give unnecessary excuses.
The Head of Development at Chapter Four Uganda Eshban Kwesiga who spoke during the discussion emphasized the need to integrate new modes of operation by adapting to online channels to maintain the constant flow of information between the NGOs and their funders. While he acknowledged that this could be a privilege of a few organizations that have the resources to adapt, he asserted that during periods like this, organizations must leverage available means to continue operating.
Today a short WhatsApp video can communicate what could be done in a meeting of over 50 people, western organizations are already using online mediums and therefore we ought to cope with the trends.”
Eshban also noted that working from home poses challenges due to the alien working environment therefore rituals like planning and continuous team meetings are key.
Among the panelists was Moses Mulumba the Executive Director of Centre for Human Rights and Development, who noted that despite the fact that COVID19 seems to be a major health issue it has affected most sectors of the economy and therefore collaborative effort is essential from all of us to stay afloat. He also encouraged NGOs to use this pandemic as a learning lesson to restructure their programming in terms of tapping into already existing networks within their areas of operation or even strengthen their programming to include grassroots persons so that in incidences like this they have fallbacks too when its time for implementation.
The health and availability of staff is a significant concern related to business continuity in the NGO space an intern contributing to business unusual globally. The crisis and its disruptions have had a toll on security protocols of some organizations, such as the possible evacuation of staff amid ongoing travel restrictions. Communication between staff members who are now all working remotely has been greatly affected.
Implementing programs on the ground in an environment of “social distancing” is impossible and this is more complicated for NGOs that work with professionals who work in communities, such as health workers, community mobilizers and counselors.
Among the panelist was Moses Mulumba the Executive Director of Centre for Human Rights and Development, who noted that despite the fact that COVID19 seems to be a major health issue it has affected most sectors of the economy and therefore collaborative effort is essential from all of us to stay afloat.