How one organization helped support nearly 2 million charities in 110 countries during the COVID-19 pandemic
Millions of people around the world have turned to charity for food, shelter and support at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the social and economic devastation wrought by the pandemic has also taken its toll on charities themselves, which have struggled to stay afloat while working remotely and facing a sharp drop in donations.
This is where CAF America came in. The global granting organization has served as a link between individuals, businesses, foundations and charities during the pandemic, processing $ 68 million in donations over the past year for its network of more than 1.8 million charities in 110 countries.
The organization has done all of this while managing its own digital transformation due to the pandemic, according to Jessie Krafft, senior vice president of CAF America and Kinga Ile, vice president of thought leadership.
CAF America itself had business continuity plans in place before the pandemic and helped support its employees by automatically reimbursing employees $ 1,500 each for home office equipment.
“One of the biggest changes we have seen during the year has been the dramatic increase in donations to COVID-19 relief initiatives. When we deal with disaster relief like the bushfire Australian or the Beirut Port Explosion, we usually look at a particular country or region, ”Krafft said.
“But this year was totally different because it was really a global crisis, so we had to adapt our systems and our teams very quickly to be able to keep up with this crisis as different hot spots were occurring around the world.”
She added that the organization had to completely change the way it interacts with charities in order to collect information for donors and identify areas in need of support.
CAF America started send surveys to the charities they supported to understand how COVID-19 was affecting their work and what their greatest needs were. Krafft said it was important for CAF America to understand the anticipated and unintended effects of the pandemic.
They ended up compiling and publishing seven different sets of surveys and reports describing how thousands of charities fared during the pandemic.
CAF America had never done its job this way and realized that the reports provided valuable information to donors, helping them understand the acute impacts of COVID-19.
The increased demand for help from charities around the world and, in some cases, increased donations, have forced CAF America to dramatically increase its staff.
Krafft noted that demand for food banks has skyrocketed during the pandemic as countries grapple with the economic fallout from efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
“Food banks are still seeing an increasing demand for their services while decreasing the contribution rate as they have lost many donors throughout the year. Some partner companies have withdrawn from their annual grant programs,” explained Krafft.
“Charities around the world have been crushed by these two opposing forces and some of them have been able to support and embrace new methods of fundraising and new strategies to reach their donors. But there are a lot of organizations that are still not sure they will. survive the pandemic. “
According to studies by CAF America, around 40% of charities are not sure they will survive the next crisis and 18% are not sure they will survive next year.
CAF America also had to create a rapid response team to manage the federal regulatory requirements that accompany the processing of donations for charities around the world. The organization generally had to operate more efficiently in order to get money for the organizations faster than usual.
Angela Frigo, general secretary of the European Federation of Food Banks, told ZDNet that her organization was facing various challenges in dealing with the broader political and socio-economic challenges caused by the pandemic.
“The Coronavirus pandemic is not just a health crisis. It left many people insecure overnight, especially those who were previously marginalized, and it also disrupted our food system. The health emergency and its socio-economic effects, especially during the COVID-19 wave, variable from one country to another, but it is obvious everywhere that this pandemic has brought a new food emergency with an increased demand for food from the poorest groups and new groups at risk, ”said Frigo.
“At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has created massive disruption in the food system, from farm to fork. In some cases, we have seen and experienced severe food shortages or panic buying due to the lockdown. “
FEBA members across Europe worked tirelessly to redistribute nearly two million pounds of food to 48,126 charities that helped 12.8 million people in need. This was a 34.7% increase from 2019. Organizations did all of this by losing volunteers, struggling financially, and reorganizing on the fly to keep workers safe.
Frigo said the support CAF America provided during the difficult times of the pandemic was essential to keep the organization afloat.
“By facilitating contact with donors and simplifying administrative procedures, it was extremely easy to receive fundamental donations to respond to COVID-19. Beyond sending donations, working with CAF America has enabled FEBA to be part of a global network of nonprofit organizations responding collectively to the crisis, ”said Frigo.
“In a time characterized by social distancing measures, we have felt CAF America close to our mission and have benefited from the experience and lessons learned by thousands of other nonprofits. In general, CAF America has supported FEBA in finding ways to deepen and broaden partnerships with donors and supporters, and strengthen these collaborations as a key factor in addressing the situation. These partnerships will be essential for the continuity of our activity and the FEBA, thanks to the great collaboration and involvement with CAF America in this period, is better prepared to face future challenges in a post-COVID world. “