NGOs in a soup as funds go to Covid relief

City COVID-19

Some have laid off staff, others have cut salaries

Bengaluru: Several non-health NGOs are facing a severe financial crisis as most of their funds are being donated to Covid-19 relief, resulting in job losses. 

Arjun Chaitanya, a co-founder of Sasya Sankalpa, a rejuvenation and sapling- planting NGO, said: “We had to let go of the organiser’s team of five as we have not conducted any events since the first lockdown in 2020. The co-founding team and volunteers have pitched in to conduct Covid relief programs. We are trying to get more funds.”

A large number of CSR funds and donations are being diverted to healthcare and relief.

Chandrakanth Singh, division head of the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, J.P. Nagar, said: “We are a pan-India organization, but still haven’t received any funds. The CSR fund is being provided to healthcare facilities, and since all the IT companies are working from home, they say they don’t have any funds.”

A few NGOs have reduced their employees’ remuneration citing work from home. “We didn’t lay off anyone, but have reduced their salaries. However, if the situation persists, we might have to remove people,” said Singh.

Samarthanam, which provides education to thousands of disabled children every year, could help the schooling of only 600 children since the pandemic.

“During the lockdown, our school suffered a ration problem as well. A lot of them did not provide us, and a few could not help even if they wanted to,” Singh said.

NGOs that have healthcare as one of their goals have completely shifted to Covid relief.

Sapna P, marketing manager of Smile Foundation, said: “We are focusing only on health right now. Earlier, we focused on social (issues) and education. Now since health should be in focus, we have put our workers on healthcare relief.”

Mallikarjun K, a group head at the Centre for Environment and Sustainable Growth, said: “For one year, we have not conducted any project. The government has not provided us with any work. Thankfully, we have only temporary staff, so we are not responsible for anything.”

Owing to a shortage of funds and the lockdown, various surveys that the NGOs conduct have also been halted. “We used to conduct a pan-India survey for disabled children every year, but because of the virus and shortage of funds, we are unable to do so,” Singh said.

According to a survey conducted by The Nudge Foundation, an NGO in Bengaluru: “The reduced funding is likely to lead to closures and job cuts, potentially even more than the past year as many NGOs have eaten into their reserves. NGOs have increasingly seen burnout and mental health issues in their teams.”

NGOs play an important role in the economic development of developing countries. Saving NGOs and their staff are essential as they play a vital role not just in health but also in human rights, environment, poverty eradication and employment. These organizations play the role of mediator between people and the government.


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