Pretoria – Non-profit organisations in the country have experienced a decline in income since the country went into lockdown in March, a survey has revealed.
It also found that the organisations anticipate things will remain difficult for at least 18 months.
Tshikululu Social Investments surveyed more than 170 NPOs around the country and found 66% of respondents experienced a decline in income. Another 35% of those interviewed said they had to lay off staff.
At least 61% of respondents believed that the damage from the pandemic could either be partly or fully countered and expected income to return to 2019 levels in the next three years.
The survey found that despite these challenges, approximately 60% of organisations reported that they did not apply for relief funding from either the public or private sector.
Some were unaware that relief funding was available while others benefited in the form of social investment or top-up funding from donors.
Chief executive of the Viva Foundation Meleney Berry-Kriel said they had also had to retrench a third of their employees.
She said the lockdown dramatically impacted the organisation in many ways.
“When we were excluded for funding from the government it was a shock, but then we realised we have to get on with what we do.
“We also had a huge loss of funding but an increase in demand for services.
“We work in informal settlements in communities such as Mamelodi where parts of society are the most affected by the pandemic,” she said.
Berry-Kriel added that they used to feed over 300 vulnerable schoolchildren twice a day. They soon realised that they had to send the food to the children’s families and the number of beneficiaries exploded.
Berry-Kriel said they were committed to sending food to all the families of their schools, which were over 500.
Later on, other vulnerable people started asking for the food parcels.
“The sector is a significant employer and there are a lot of people who rely on it for employment,” she said.
The co-founder of Mamelodi-based Hope Recovered, Raphael Richli, said they relied mostly on volunteers, while most of their donations came from international donors.
He said that during the pandemic they found new strategies to work. Using technology played a big role in that.
“There were some programmes that we unfortunately could not continue with and had to stop. We focused on other things like distributing food parcels which became a huge need during lockdown. We also interacted with our beneficiaries through WhatsApp so we can send them materials to entertain the kids,” he said.
Richli said he was optimistic as the levels lowered and they managed to start a academic intervention programme for high school learners and opened a library last week on Heritage Day.
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