BEARR Survey 2020
8 October 2020
In August and September 2020, The BEARR Trust conducted a survey of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus to find out how their work had been affected by COVID-19 and the measures taken to combat it.
The call to take part in the survey was shared with BEARR’s Small Grant Scheme applicants 2015-2020, and publicised on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and the websites of our partners.
We received responses from 328 CSOs based in 12 countries, mostly small (49% with fewer than 10 staff) and medium (29% with 11-20 staff members) and assisting with access to healthcare and education (53%). They paint a vivid picture of an increased demand for services and reduced resources, but also of innovative practices which have enabled many CSOs, although not all, to continue their work.
These are the key findings:
- CSOs have adapted their activities to the new realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 64% reported they continued working from home, some even continued working as normal (12.5%).
- The need for CSOs’ services has increased significantly (reported by 59% of respondents). Many have had to adapt their services to providing COVID-19 related support (for example producing and distributing masks). Some reported a positive impact (increased donations, an inflow of volunteers, and the expansion of activities into new areas and regions).
- As a result of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the overwhelming majority (85% of CSOs) reported an increase in their online presence and use of technology. Most were using telephones to reach their beneficiaries (68%), concentrating on developing their websites (28%) or even creating new ones (10%) to better reach their beneficiaries. 42 organisations (15.5% of all respondents) were prompted to start Facebook pages. Those who couldn’t increase their use of technology said it was because they lacked resources (47%, 21 organisations); or because their beneficiaries didn’t have access to the internet (31%, 14 organisations).
- The pandemic has had a significant impact on the financial situation of the CSOs. Almost half of all respondents (44%, or 144 organisations) have described the situation as ‘damaging’, with a fall in donations and frozen donor funding. Over 17% (57 organisations) said the impact was ‘devastating’ – they lost their main sources of income and did not have enough to keep their offices open. Almost 19% (61 organisations) have had to stop their activities temporarily.
- The greatest levels financial damage as a result of the pandemic (calculated by combining the percentage of responses describing the impact as ‘damaging’ or ‘devastating’) were reported by CSOs in Kyrgyzstan (76%), Armenia (75%), Russia (68%) and Moldova (67%). The countries which reported the least financial damage (calculated by combining the percentage of responses describing the impact as ‘none’ or ‘low’) were Georgia (77%), Kazakhstan (56%), and Ukraine (41%).
- Larger organisations reported greater financial damage caused by the pandemic. However, it is also primarily the larger organisations which managed to continue working as normal (23% of large CSOs, against only 9% of medium and 10% of small CSOs).
- Most CSOs require funding (75%, 203 organisations). But there is also a significant need for technical assistance to develop an online presence (40%, 109 organisations), help with developing new services (41%, 112 organisations), training on fundraising (28%, 76 organisations) and improving organisational capacity (23%, 62 organisations).
The survey closed on 25 September. BEARR will continue to analyse the comments and results and will put a fuller analysis on the BEARR website in due course. Meanwhile the survey results will feed into planning for the November webinars (details of which are available here) and the 2021 Small Grants Scheme.