COVID-19 in South Africa – An Overview of the NGO Funding Situation and Fundraising Efforts

This article provides an overview of the expected impact of COVID-19 on the funding situation of NGOs in South Africa, new funding initiatives that aim to support the sector, and the fundraising efforts of NGOs that are involved in COVID-19 related interventions.

The COVID-19 pandemic, national lockdown, and resulting economic slowdown affect every aspect of South African society. Given the already weak state of the economy, the country’s high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality will increase as a result.

The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic also have far-reaching implications for the role that NGOs play in the lives of millions of South Africans.

The more than 220 000 NGOs registered with the Department of Social Development, as well as many community-based organisations, perform crucial development, humanitarian and advocacy functions, and are an integral part of the fabric of our society.

Unfortunately, most NGOs are dependent on grant funding and individual donations to support their operations. As local and international funders are also affected by economic downturns, less funding will be available to support NGOs.

COVID-19 is not an event with a defined beginning or end, and it is likely to remain an ongoing threat for the foreseeable future. This situation makes NGOs extremely vulnerable, and some NGOs are already experiencing a decrease in funding, or fear funding cuts in the future. This is not the time for complacency, and NGOs will require smart leadership and creative fundraising efforts to prevent the down-scaling of operations or staff losses.

Several initiatives have emerged to support NGOs under these trying circumstances. CAF Southern Africa (CAFSA) has launched an emergency fund to support NGOs that provide essential services to the most marginalised communities in the country. Similarly, the Mergon Group has created an emergency Gap Fund to support NGOs that have lost significant funding in recent weeks, or that are experiencing an increase in demand for their services. Both initiatives are actively seeking public support to meet their funding objectives. CAFSA also manages emergency funding by the Oppenheimer Generations Foundation. This funding is offered on a once-off basis to small NGOs (budget of less than R5 million per annum) that deliver food to vulnerable groups. The National Lotteries Commission (NLC) has released R150 million as a relief measure to NGOs struggling to stay afloat during this time.

Many traditional funders are also reviewing the impact of COVID-19 on their grantees, and offer additional support where possible.

The Solidarity Fund, which was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 23 March 2020, provides a vehicle for individuals and organisations to support measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 and assist in the economic recovery. Although not aimed at supporting NGOs specifically, some of the funding will hopefully reach NGOs that are implementing services aligned with the fund’s objectives.

Despite the negative impact of COVID-19 on the NGO sector, many organisations are operating during the lockdown, providing essential services, food and medical supplies to vulnerable communities across the country. These interventions complement those of government and other stakeholders, and form an integral part of a collective national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, given the impact of the pandemic and extension of the lockdown period, these NGOs are in urgent need of immediate financial and in-kind donations to continue providing, or expanding their interventions. Most of them are implementing specific fundraising efforts in this regard.

The following list highlights the fundraising efforts of NGOs (in alphabetical order) in support of their COVID-19 related interventions. Click on the name of an organisation to learn more about its specific fundraising appeal or to make a donation.

Abalimi Bezekhaya – to conduct manure runs in support of 1500 micro-farmers in townships around Cape Town

ACFS Community Education and Feeding Scheme – to provide food hampers to children and families in need

Africa Muslims Agency – to provide food and hygiene kits to families in need

African Reclaimers Organisation – to provide food and essential supplies to more than 6000 reclaimers and their families in Gauteng

Afrika Awake – to provide food and hand sanitizer to vulnerable communities in Johannesburg
Afrika Tikkun COVID-19 Relief Fund – to scale up supplies of food and essentials to vulnerable families in townships in Gauteng and Western Cape

Al-Fidaa Foundation – to provide food and hygiene supplies to vulnerable communities in the Eastern Cape

Al-Imdaad Foundation – to provide food, sanitisers and water storage tanks to needy communities across South Africa

Angels’ Care Centre – to provide food, clothing, cleaning materials and household essentials to young mothers, children and families in the uMngeni municipal area in KwaZulu-Natal

Ashraful Aid – to provide medical and hygiene supplies to service personnel, emergency teams, affected people and the poor

BackaBuddy – a listing of fundraising efforts in support of organisations registered on the platform that are involved in COVID-19 activities, or whose work has been affected by the pandemic

Be the Difference Foundation “Sow A Seed Campaign” – to support vulnerable communities in Kraaifontein affected by COVID-19

Breadline Africa – to provide meals to the elderly and children in Mitchells Plain

C19 People’s Coalition – to support community organising and food security in Gauteng

CANSA – to support CANSA Care Homes and TLC Lodges

Cheetah Outreach Animal Care – to feed and take care of the animals at the centre

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation – to accommodate children and teenagers with cancer

Community Chest National Emergency COVID-19 Health Fund – to provide health and nutrition resources to vulnerable communities

Connect a Heart Foundation – to provide to vulnerable communities in Cape Town

Connect Network COVID-19 Relief Fund – to support organisations dealing with COVID-19 in local communities

CoronaCare – to connect concerned South Africans with organisations supporting those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic

Child Welfare Durban & District – to support children who are at risk

Door of Hope Children’s Mission – to keep supporting abandoned babies during the COVID-19 crisis

Feed SA – to provide bulk packs with food, cleaning materials and household essentials to 5000 households in Alexandra and other townships

Flower Valley Conservation Trust – to feed 64 young children and their families in the Overstrand

Food for Life – to provide meals to vulnerable communities across South Africa

FoodForward South Africa – to scale and provide critical food provisions to the most vulnerable groups across the country

forgood – donate money to help NGOs stay afloat during the lockdown

forgood – donate money to NGOs feeding children during the lockdown

forgood – donate money to NGOs supplying sanitation products during the lockdown

forgood – go online shopping for a cause during the lockdown

Gift of the Givers Foundation – to provide equipment and supplies needed by doctors, nurses and medical staff working in ICUs and high care units across medical facilities

GivenGain – a listing of fundraising efforts in support of organisations registered on the platform that are involved in COVID-19 activities

Hlanganisa COVID-19 Emergency Fund – to assist communities in rural areas and informal settlements

Humanitarian Empowerment Fund – to provide food and hygiene supplies to communities in the Western Cape and on the West Rand in Gauteng

Ikamva Labantu – to provide food and hygiene parcels to senior citizens and early childhood development learners in Cape Town

Informal Settlement Forum – to provide food packages to vulnerable communities in Pretoria

Inspire Children and Youth Trust – to feed children, women, disabled and elderly people on rural farms in the Western Cape

Iris House Children’s Hospice – to provide food parcels to families in need in the Cape Peninsula

Islamic Relief South Africa – to support vulnerable communities with food packs and hygiene kits

Joint Aid Management – to provide food and hygiene packs to vulnerable communities across South Africa

KZN Response (network of faith-based organisations involved in disaster management and response work) – to distribute 500 000 CoronaCare packages (food, sanitisers and educational material) to needy families

Ladies of Love – to provide a soup kitchen and feeding programme for people in need in Cape Town

Little Eden – to continue providing life-long care to children and adults with profound intellectual disability in two custom designed residential facilities in Edenvale and Bapsfontein

Love Story – to provide food to the destitute in Port Elizabeth

Lunchbox Fund – to implement a relief feeding programme for children throughout the counry

Makers Valley Partnership – to provide nutritionally balanced food parcels, together with soup kitchens three times per week, to the Makers Valley community just east of the Johannesburg CBD

Mosehla Foundation – to provide scrubs and masks for health care professionals at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital

Mould Empower Serve (MES) – to serve the homeless and vulnerable inner-city communities

MSF Southern Africa COVID-19 Crisis Fund – to respond to the COVID-19 emergency and prepare for the consequences of the outbreak on its projects in South Africa

Muslim Association of South Africa – to provide essential food items to vulnerable communities

Nelson Mandela Foundation “Each One Feed One” Hunger Relief Fund – to bring relief to the plight of food insecurity in communities that are most in need

Operation Hunger #feedafamily campaign – to help feed vulnerable families affected by the spread of the COVID-19 virus

Operation SA and SANZAF #OperationCOVID19Fund – to provide food and sanitisers to vulnerable communities during the national lockdown

Peninsula School Feeding Association – to provide food parcels to households in Cape Town

Philisa Abafazi Bethu – to provide meals for children in Lavender Hill and the abused women and children in its safe house

Porky’s People – to support families in Pietermaritzburg with food and other essential items during the lockdown

Rays of Hope #Hope4Alex – to provide food and health products to families in Alexandra

Rescue Among Many – to provide food to rural children and the elderly in the Western Cape

Rise Against Hunger Africa – to provide nutritious meals to vulnerable communities

Running Wild Conservation – to help cover running costs and veterinary bills, and support staff during the lockdown

S.A. Harvest – to deliver a 100 000 meals per week to the many food vulnerable South Africans

Sandton SPCA – to continue operations and support the needs of animals

Save the Children SA – to meet the health, education and nutrition needs of children across the country

Shout SA “Shout4Masks” – to provide masks to healthcare workers, patients and vulnerable communities

Siyabonga Africa – to provide food parcels and support to people most in need in Ekurkuleni

Siyakholwa Support Care Centre – to distribute food and emergency kits to families in impoverished communities in Germiston

Smile Foundation – to assist medical professionals with much-needed supplies

South African Medical and Education Foundation – to provide critical medical equipment required to equip healthcare facilities and protect healthcare workers

Southern Lodestar Foundation – to feed 1 million hungry children through COVID-19 and beyond

Susters4Life – to provide food parcels, hygiene products and masks to communities in the Western Cape

tavakul – to support the SA Muslims COVID-19 Virus relief effort and donate to local nonprofit response and prevention efforts

Tekkie Tax – to support the work of 250 welfare organisations that are providing services to people affected by the COVID-19 crisis

The Angel Network – to provide food parcels to vulnerable communities, and masks and gloves to medical and emergency personnel

The Almond Tree #CovidReliefFund – to take care of the needs of vulnerable children 

The Sprightly Seed – to support the basic needs of 450 families during the COVID-19 crisis

The Township Yogi Project – to distribute hand sanitisers to township and rural communities

Ubuntu Beds – to provide healthcare workers with a safe space to sleep near their workplace

United Way South Africa – to provide food and basic hygiene supplies to more than 1500 homeless people in Johannesburg

Valcare Covid-19 Fund – to provide nutritional support to vulnerable communities in the Cape Winelands

Warriors of Hope South Africa – to provide food to families in need in Bonteheuwel in Cape Town

World Vision South Africa – to support vulnerable children, communities and frontline workers with emergency food aid, fresh water, hygiene supplies and much needed PPE

Zip Zap Circus School #RaisingDATA – to connect 250 students with 2GB of data each during April and May 2020 to help ensure physical distancing does not impact social connection

(This list will be updated regularly with information about new NGO fundraising efforts. If you are aware of any efforts that should be added to this list, please forward the information to barnard.davidb@gmail.com.)

An important characteristic of these fundraising efforts is the role played by the many crowdfunding platforms available in the country. NGOs are using these platforms to appeal for donations from a broader, and potentially more engaged audience than ever before. Similarly, many South Africans are turning to these platforms not only to make donations, but also to implement fundraising campaigns in support of NGOs. Hopefully, these engagements will also contribute to a deeper understanding and increased public interest and support for NGOs beyond the pandemic.

Although the fundraising efforts of most NGOs aim to support their specific interventions, many examples of NGOs partnering with one another, community groups, or government initiatives are also emerging, thus increasing the impact of their efforts.

In addition, initiatives such as Cape Town Together and Gauteng Together aim to mobilise Community Action Networks (CANs) across the two provinces in response to growing concerns over food insecurity, hunger, and other social challenges that impact negatively on the lives of people due to the lockdown. CANs provide a mechanism for community members, volunteers, and NGOs to identify and respond to local needs through coordinated, sustained localised action.

Ultimately, there are no simple solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, in terms of both its immediate impact and long-term implications for the country. This situation is already testing the resolve of most South Africans, including that of many NGOs.

Hopefully, South Africans will recognise the critical role that NGOs are playing under current circumstances, or the uncertain future many are facing, and continue to support their work.

David Barnard is a development consultant with extensive experience in NGO, philanthropy and ICT issues in Africa.

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