Covid-19 could cost international development charities almost £1.3bn, Bond says

The representative body says that donors must show flexibility so charities can tackle the pandemic worldwide and avoid cuts to staff and programmes

Photo by Ivan Romano/Getty Images
Photo by Ivan Romano/Getty Images

<This article has been corrected - please see below for details>

International development charities face the loss of almost £1.3bn of income because of the coronavirus pandemic, the international development charity representative body Bond has said.

In a survey of 93 international development charities, Bond found that 41 per cent – £1.28bn – of the UK development sector’s funding was now at risk because of cancellations of fundraising events and a fall in individual giving.

Delays from donors during the pandemic also meant that staff were having to be furloughed or made redundant, and in-country operations were being scaled back.

The survey found that 60 per cent of those questioned said they had already cut back on staff in the UK and overseas.

And 86 per cent of respondents reported that they were considering or already having to delay or stop in-country programmes because of Covid-19, by postponing programme implementation, closing country offices or limiting funding to global programmes.

Bond said there were concerns that the threat posed by Covid-19 to the UK would remain if it was not curbed worldwide, and greater flexibility by donors was urgently needed.

An anonymous survey respondent told Bond that a temporary unrestriction of existing grants would not only save their charity but also allow it to immediately redirect programme activities to a Covid-19 response.

“Because we can't cover core costs and are also short-staffed when some become ill, it's not practical to renegotiate programmes and budgets, or even develop applications for new funds,” the respondent said. 

“Donor staff time is overstretched too. A simple temporary unrestriction seems the ideal solution.”

Graham MacKay, chief operating officer at Bond, said: “Covid-19 is a global pandemic that also requires a global response. 

“But NGOs can do this only if they are provided with greater flexibility by donors, which would allow them to urgently respond to the crisis before the situation deteriorates.

“Many smaller NGOs or those with low reserves, or unable to furlough staff, also need financial support to avoid further job losses or programme cuts.”

 - This article previously said the international development sector would lose £3.9bn - or almost £4bn - from Covid-19, based on figures which were miscommunicated to Third Sector. The actual amount international development charities stand to lose from Covid-19 is £1.28bn -

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