New figures have been released today showing the impact of COVID-19 on the community and voluntary sector. The results are from a nationwide survey of over 1,400 organisations carried out across May and June. The survey found that a sizable number of tangata whenua, community and voluntary organisations took a hit throughout lockdown and beyond. Despite this, they rallied, moved rapidly, and in some cases did, and are still doing more with less. Post-lockdown, the sector is in a precarious, finely balanced position. In May-June 74% of survey participants had taken some form of financial hit. Almost half had sufficient funds to maintain staff and activity for six months or more, the rest did not without more revenue coming in. The four umbrella organisations who carried out the research (the Centre for Social Impact, Hui E! Community Aotearoa, Philanthropy New Zealand and Volunteering New Zealand) are concerned about what might be coming down the line. Main concerns mentioned in the survey were lost income streams, financial uncertainty, immense pressure on operating costs (staffing, IT infrastructure, rent), and balancing and maintaining a level of service on reduced revenue. Reserves being used now will be harder to replenish and the impact of losing the wage subsidy in September will impact the 35% of organisations who accessed this funding during lockdown. “We know community organisations have been working hard on reforecasting, restructuring, seeking alternative income streams and changing their business models,” says Rochelle Stewart-Allen, Pou Kaiārahi for Hui E! Community Aotearoa.
Community organisations say the way central and local government, philanthropy and communities worked together throughout lockdown was phenomenal. “So many organisations stepped up to the mark and did everything humanly possible to care for their local community,” says Ms Stewart-Allen. They applaud the wage subsidy, high trust funding and flexibility during lockdown.