Hope in times of crisis
With so much uncertainty and suffering unleashed by the coronavirus, it’s important to find reasons to hope. For me, that’s come from the huge effort and determination I’ve seen from colleagues, partners and communities to respond quickly and make a difference where we can.
Our partners started telling us about the impact they were seeing on the ground at the end of March. It soon became clear the health emergency would have many other impacts for our partners and beneficiaries, and extra support would be needed. I was asked to mobilise teams across Laudes Foundation to develop a special relief package aimed at boosting their resilience.
As Organisational and Network Effectiveness Manager, my day-to-day job is to work with programme teams to strengthen our partner organisations from within. This new responsibility demanded an urgent pace of delivery, but the focus was the same: what do our partners need at this time, and how can we make a meaningful difference? How can we help in this moment of vulnerability so they can keep doing their important work?
Like so many people in recent months, I’ve had to adapt my normal ways of working – pivoting from longer-term projects based on deep, strategic analysis to quick assessment, planning and delivery.
Thanks to an amazing cross-team effort, we launched our relief plan in April and it’s now reaching partners in places like India, Bangladesh, Brazil and Mexico. As well as emergency funding, the package introduces greater flexibility in how we work with partners on existing grants, and technical support through pro bono consulting. The emergency fund is helping an estimated 500,000 people around the world, with more than 70 percent going to grassroots organisations.
Many of these organisations are doing vital work to support the most vulnerable in society. In Brazil, ELAS Fund told us that women have been severely impacted by the crisis because of the increase in domestic violence cases and the high proportion who work in health and social services and the informal sector. ELAS Fund is using its grant to upgrade and digitise its previously manual and paper-based application process, enabling it to continue its vital grant-making work through the crisis and create a more efficient and resilient system for the future.
We’ve also heard moving accounts about the impact these funds are having on people’s lives. Our three biggest requests came from partners working with farming communities in India. This pandemic has had a devastating impact on the global apparel supply chain, right down to rural and small-scale cotton producers. With farmers unable to sell produce or afford the higher costs of moving goods around, many of them have been left with no income and no way to feed their families. Through our partners, we’ve been providing food and health support as well as helping farmers access funds from public schemes. Stories like these show how important it is to move quickly and decisively in times of crisis.
Like all of our work, this relief response has taught us many lessons. We’ll be measuring the impact on partners later in the year but, internally, it’s been a great exercise in cross-functional teamwork, demonstrating how much we can achieve, at pace, when the need arises.
It’s also shown the impact we can have more broadly as a global philanthropy sector. Laudes Foundation has not acted alone in this; we were inspired by the actions of others, including the global Philanthropy Pledge that paved the way us and many organisations to respond to Covid-19. My hope is that we can build on this momentum together and continue working with urgency to address the inequality brought into sharper focus during this emergency.