Impact Of The Pandemic On Charitable Giving

Kuala Lumpur, January 14 – The economic impact of COVID-19 and its effects on livelihoods and jobs has been well documented.  For charitable organisations that depend on public donations and support, how has the pandemic impacted them and changed the way they work?

International humanitarian organisation, World Vision Malaysia, revealed that the pandemic has resulted in a shift in the giving behaviour of their donors and supporters.

“2020 was a challenging year but it is heart-warming to see that the giving spirit is still very much alive! Malaysians are generous people and it is so inspiring to see how much people want to help each other. While people are continuing to give, their giving pattern has somewhat shifted. We see more one-time donations versus sustained, long-term contributions,” revealed Daniel Boey, Chief Executive Officer of World Vision Malaysia.

Boey commented: “Given the uncertainties ahead, our donors and child sponsors are practising some caution.  Rather than just defaulting on their commitments, they would still give but as and when they are able to.”

As a result of such economic uncertainties, World Vision Malaysia (WVM) saw a rise in cancellations for its Child Sponsorship Programme compared to previous years.  However, contributions to one-off campaigns particularly to humanitarian causes and disaster relief have picked up.

“Traditionally, the public had been drawn to global issues that would lead them to invest in the well-being and empowerment of vulnerable communities regardless of where these communities might have been located.  With COVID-19 directly impacting our entire nation, many have turned their attention to the severe needs and inequities in our own backyard resulting in a swell of giving to local communities,” observed Boey.

With the changed context arising from COVID-19, one of the challenges for WVM is the need to pivot rapidly to respond to different and additional needs.  Boey added: “It is important for us at WVM to build resilience and agility into our strategies. The need to pivot quickly within a shortened timeframe means we have to be flexible, especially when we are working for the vulnerable communities that are rendered even more vulnerable by the pandemic.”

Like many others, WVM has to digitise a significant amount of its programme delivery, initiatives and general operations.  This is necessary to cope with restrictions on travel, lockdown requirements and health concerns.   Additionally, key fundraising campaigns had to be carried out online as virtual events. 

In this journey of reinventing impact, WVM remains committed to the vulnerable communities it supports.  For instance, it is identifying aspects of its existing programmes that can be accomplished through remote mediums. A case in point is its advocacy of 42 child rights through its virtual #RunForChildren and its mammoth advocacy campaign – 30-Hour Famine.

Despite the financial impact of the pandemic on WVM’s funding, Boey remains optimistic as the organisation moves forward to 2021 much leaner but also more agile.

“WVM is adjusting our strategies for 2021 and beyond.  Our priority is to gain renewed momentum in our Child Sponsorship Programme.  This we hope to do with the launch of our The World of Firsts campaign in 2021.

“Our message is that child sponsorship opens up a world of firstsfor the sponsored children, their families and communities as well as the sponsors.  Firsts could be in the guise of the first sip of clean water, first nutritious meal, first step to a brighter future and to transforming the world or something as simple as first letter from a sponsored child leading to a new friendship.

“The beauty of it is these moments can be captured and shared online which will be the trend henceforth,” explained Boey.

He concluded: “We made it through 2020 thanks to the continued support from our donors, sponsors, associates and corporate partners.  They have been most supportive and understanding of our fresh approaches of bringing hope to the marginalised communities, especially children. It is in these more challenging environments that the need to help is even greater!”

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