Impact Funding in the time of COVID-19

Photo source: The New Humanitarian

The global pandemic COVID-19 has triggered the most severe economic recession in nearly a century and is causing enormous damage to people’s health, jobs, and well-being. It has changed the social sector landscape and will continue to impact the sector for the next few years. In the short term, since March 2020, change in the funding trends is already being witnessed by non-profits, especially of the CSR in India, with majority of them contributing to the PM Cares, CM Relief Funds and contributions towards local relief work like food and PPE distribution. The unexpected crisis created due to migrant labour returning to their home states, we are witnessing some of the bigger CSRs channeling their funds towards ‘Rehabilitation during and post COVID-19’ phase with a focus on re-skilling, sustainable livelihoods and job creation, BCC, and food & nutrition security.

Until the next 12-18 months, there will be opportunities for partnerships under the ‘rehabilitation lens’ across geographies, but more focused on states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Assam, and Jharkhand. Apart from relief & rehabilitation, Health (preventive health, strengthening local health systems at block and village levels, and co-morbidity diseases like TB, HIV/AIDS, Diabetes, etc.) and Education (especially working with a sudden increase in out-of-school-children due to in-migration, and skilling School teachers in rural and sub-urban India in virtual classrooms, course development and delivery, and digital communication) are other areas, where donor funds are potentially going to be invested. In other areas, especially environment and climate change (unless CSRs & foundation’s core focus is environment), it is bound to be severe funding cuts (40%-60% from pre-COVID times) over short to mid-term.

Non-profits need to continue building strong partnership with their existing CSR Partners, to continue getting support to even those projects that are not COVID aligned, and build new partnerships using COVID aligned models. It is expected that Government funding will increase and so will partnership opportunities in most of the areas like livelihoods, education and health using innovative implementation mechanisms and digital communication. The World Bank has announced large assistance programs for India, which will be implemented through state governments and may bring non-profits with the opportunities of large partnerships between now and 2025. The current changed funding trend will more or less continue in 2021. However bigger CSR and foundations will see a potential downside of 30-50% in their funding allocations.

As restrictions are being eased world-wide, the path to global economic recovery remains highly uncertain with 6-7.5% negative growth in 2020, it is expected to climb back to around 2.8-3% in 2021 and move slowly towards recovery. In the long run, 2022-25, when both national and international economies are strongly on the recovery path, it is expected that several international aid agencies, which had stopped direct funding in Indian development sector, once again will open a window for 3-5 years of funding, and number of funding opportunities for India and other developing countries will increase. Historically, post mega disaster comes the golden period of funding for impact sector. It is a phase, and it too shall pass. Together, we will continue to drive change and together we will prevail.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views or opinions of any organization, foundation, CSR, non-profit or others.

About Manu Mayank
I work as an International development professional. My interests include reading, writing, traveling, movies, music, cosmology, collecting stamps, matchboxes, and rocks, mentoring, coffee, and computer games, among many more.

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