COVID-19 has had, and continues to produce, profound impacts and forecasts on how nonprofits operate. While Europe and North America have been the epicenters of the pandemic, it is shifting to less wealthy areas of the world. People who have little will potentially suffer devastating losses of life and financial tailspins that will set them back decades in terms of humanitarian conditions and economic recovery. The World Bank projects that “COVID-19 will push 71 million into extreme poverty.”
Despite the continued rise in COVID-19 cases worldwide, people are giving: although difficult to track, between $6 billion from private sources and $20 trillion when including public sources has been donated toward aid efforts globally. Much of the private funds have been given towards work performed “at home” with Europe and North America receiving large per capita funding. However, we are all recognizing that we are inextricably interwoven as a planet, and inequitably in aid toward low- and-middle income countries will end up affecting higher income countries. But in areas of Asia, Latin American, and Africa, particularly those countries where economies may be unsteady and millions are living in refugee settlements or otherwise displaced, COVID-19 looms as a terrifying eventuality whose impacts will be even more deeply felt now and into the future. While much of the initial work is being performed by governments, nonprofits are stepping in to fill the gaps in aid delivery. But to do this, nonprofits delivering aid must have increased resources, not only to help the beneficiaries, but to protect their own staff and have the tools to reach across the “social distance” void. Technology is often the answer to this.
NetHope, a global consortium of 57 of the world’s largest humanitarian and conservation organizations, is built around the power and potential that technology provides to further our collective impacts. As the chief convener bringing together these organizations to collaborate toward common goals, we are advocating for increased participation by the tech sector and funding institutions to support our efforts in low- to moderate income countries.
To that end, NetHope has created a Global Aid Technology Response and Recovery Fund. The Fund seeks $60 million toward immediate response to the pandemic in these affected areas as well as for recovery and capacity building as the veil of the pandemic begins to lift. This represents a mere one percent of what has already been privately donated. But these funds will have big impact, using technology tools to enable remote work for NGO staff to continue their essential social good programs, creating new programs that immediately shield vulnerable populations from the effects of the virus, and earmark funds to create programs and projects regionally that address the aftereffects of the pandemic.
The need is immediate; it’s clear that waiting any longer will not only affect those most at risk, but ultimately back to the wealthier countries as well. The generosity to this point has been notable, but we are not finished yet. We now must act to protect the global community, and technology is often the key to creating a network of care for all people, no matter their location or station in life. As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted, “Either we get through this pandemic together, or we fail."