We’re all focused on fighting the pandemic. In the UK large funders have all pivoted towards supporting initiatives at local, regional and national levels that can provide support in either fighting the virus or dealing with the fallout of the lockdown. But as my good colleague Julian Circo commented not so long ago – all the problems and challenges that civil society was dealing with until a few weeks ago haven’t gone away. They are all still there and a few months’ neglect will just make things worse.
Some NGOs are already laying off staff, a few have closed and more may follow. We know from past crises that once something is lost, it rarely comes back again. So the old solutions and ways of working are unlikely to come back or survive. We will see a rationing of organisations (not necessarily a bad thing as I mentioned before) and we will see new initiatives spring up to fill in the gaps.
Now, though, is the time to change the way that we do things. To stop using the outdated models and approaches that might have kept development and civil society organisations afloat, but didn’t actually produce long term social impact. We should be seeing this disruption for what it is: an opportunity to reflect at a society or systemic level on what is working, what is not working and make changes to improve how we create positive social impact.
But we need to be careful, this could go either way: we can either embrace the change and focus on creating new, sustainable ways of living and working. Or we can slide backwards into entrenched models of existence that favour the 1% only.
How will you change for the better?