COVID-19 survey:

How has the pandemic affected our members' financial situation?

The financial implications of the Covid-19 pandemic could seriously impact the long-term sustainability and permanence of civil society, especially of small, informal and grassroots groups and individuals who were already struggling to sustain their work before the crisis. This is a key finding of the recent CIVICUS alliance survey asking 127 members from 50 countries about how COVID-19 has affected their ability to organise and mobilise resources and support, as well as their relationships with donors/supporters.

This report provides insights about some of the recurrent challenges, behaviours and innovations shared by members, along with our preliminary reflections and ideas we are exploring to support civil society in these moments.

Survey Highlights

89% of respondents say the pandemic negatively impacted their financial situation

1. The financial situation has deteriorated for most respondents

49%  saw their income and other sources of support seriously reduced, but said they could continue working.

40% highlighted that worsened situations means they would have to close down in the near future.

4% of respondents reported a positive financial impact during the pandemic.

2. Respondents who did not rely on mainstream donor grants before the pandemic also lost income and seem to be struggling more to access any funding at the moment.

  • Individual activists, community-based organisations, small and informal groups, and social enterprises highlighted that they had to stop their main income-generating activities –g. mobilising community donations, collecting membership fees, or selling goods services – due to lockdown restrictions. Many have tried to apply for emergency funding and other types of institutional support. However, most of the time they are not eligible because donors are offering this funding to their grantee partners, or they don’t have experience, knowledge and credentials to apply.

3. Some civil society donors are reducing their support while others remain committed, but not always in the most relevant ways.

24% of respondents reported reduced donor support, while only 5% said their donors offered additional funds.
18% indicated that donors allowed them to repurpose existing grants but mostly towards COVID-19 specific responses and not to cover other important needs like operational costs.
27% of respondents indicated that donors offered non-financial support, mostly through solidarity statements and information-sharing versus psycho-social and legal support, which were the most cited non-financial needs in the survey.

4. Respondents appreciated CIVICUS’ advocacy with the donor community.

CIVICUS published two open letters to donors during the firsts months of this crisis: one in March calling for more flexibility, certainty, and stability towards grantee partners, and one in April, co-published with NEAR and the Global Fund for Community Foundations, asking donors to prioritise funding and solidarity for a lasting and stronger local civil society in the global south.

  • 60% of respondents said they knew about the letters and found them useful for their work. Some reported sharing these letters with their donors and using them in negotiations.


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