Pandemic saw big drop in charitable giving

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Three years of COVID-19 restrictions have put a strain on philanthropic giving. China Development Brief, along with a few other NGOs, conducted a survey titled “Difficulties and Needs of NGOs during The Late Stage of COVID-19” in 2021. 


The results showed that the epidemic has had a strong negative impact on small and medium-sized NGOs. 28.8 percent of organizations surveyed have seen their income decrease by more than half, with 11.3 percent experiencing a decrease of more than 70 percent. Nearly one-fifth of organizations have been greatly affected and will find it difficult to survive; 15 to 20 percent of organizations may even need to close down.


Reduced salary


Beijing Worker’s Home is an organization that helps migrant workers integrate into the city and develop themselves. In its heyday, the Worker’s Home had hundreds of staff, but now there are only about 30. 


“It is not because we are laying off staff, but because many employees have lost confidence in this sector. Their salaries have fallen and survival has become a major problem,” a departing employee said. 


The salary level was not high in the industry before the epidemic. However, the 3-year epidemic brought several rounds of salary reductions, resulting in staff with mortgages leaving the field.


Faced with mounting pressure, the organization has reduced its office space to reduce operation costs and rolled out new projects to increase revenue, such as working with companies that have budgets for philanthropic staff.


Going part time


A private NGO in Anhui Province that currently focuses on preventing sexual assault and domestic violence and helping left-behind children has experienced big falls in donations since 2020.


The epidemic is one of the reasons. Its project focus has also negatively affected its ability to attract donations and funding. When it comes to supporting rural development, some companies and foundations still prefer traditional programs such as school aid, while sex education-related projects are not favored. In its case, the epidemic only further exacerbated the organization’s predicament.


“Last year was the most difficult of all,” a staff member said, “and we still don’t know what this year holds.”


In order to survive and continue supporting the organization, many of its staff have started doing part-time jobs.


Never giving up


A charitable training center in Shanghai received almost no income in the past three years. To survive, it has gone through a significant downsizing, and its manager even used her savings to pay workers and run projects.


The center helps people with disabilities learn skills and find flexible employment through systematic training in craftsmanship. Its team is made up of people with disabilities and has several communities across the country. 


Looking back, the center’s manager is happy that even during the toughest period, they did not give up and now the organization has seen the silver lining with new projects coming in.