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Governments around the world cannot risk squandering lessons learned from working alongside nonprofits in the battle against Covid-19, according to a new report into international reactions to the pandemic.
The new study by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) examined national policy responses to supporting philanthropic giving and civil society in the context of the pandemic. It found that governments varied widely in how they viewed the ability of civil society to help and that some had used the pandemic to silence organisations that were seen as critics.
Civil society organisations have been a vital part of the Covid-19 response across the world, stepping in where government capacity for providing basic necessities has been lacking and supporting rebuilding efforts.
In the report, Neil Heslop, Chief Executive of CAF, said:
“Governments around the world have not given civil-society organisations enough support during the last few months – sometimes even deliberately impeding their work. They have also failed to realise how valuable CSOs can be in engaging the public and finding solutions to numerous problems, during the pandemic and beyond.”
He added: “In this report there are strong examples of governments, development agencies, charities and advocates working together to help people weather this pandemic. We need to build on those successes in our planning for future crises.
“We cannot afford to squander the moment for change created by Covid-19. In the past and as seen during this crisis, the role of civil society organisations has often been an afterthought for governments. As we start to recover and aim to build back better that cannot be the case.”
The Giving Civil Society The Right Response report also details how some governments see charities as obstacles and shortcomings in the financial assistance offered to non-profit organisations during the pandemic. In many cases, a one-size-fits-all approach was created to support businesses and was only extended to nonprofits in some cases after much advocacy. Whilst some governments retrofitted stimulus packages to the sector, they did not address the needs of nonprofits and failed to acknowledge the role they already play in delivering on-the-ground support.
The report also highlights recommendations on how we can build on the growth of informal giving and private sector engagement we have seen during Covid-19 whilst keeping in mind that the economic impacts of the crisis are still unfolding.