A parachute for civil society?

Civil Society in the Covid-19 crisis

Like all other areas of society, civil society is also affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The fact that large numbers of committed volunteers play a decisive role in overcoming it, like in other crises, attracts little attention, as does the dramatic, negative consequences of the lack of meetings in voluntary communities of all kinds. For civil society, there was the danger that, especially small movements and organisations that fight for human and civic rights, for deliberative democracy and other goals and therefore make essential contributions to an open society, cannot survive the crisis, due to financial and other reasons.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the Maecenata Foundation for Philanthropy and Civil Society has looked at these questions and published its first study on this topic in October 2020. It closely examined the potential, needs and available support for civil society. A second study followed, whose main focus was a survey of organisations that appeared at the end of 2020. The results show that one in two organisations were somewhat or heavily impacted by the effects of the pandemic. Above all, it expressed failures or declines in service provision and changing job roles for employees. However, there are clear differences between the various operating areas of civil society. The study showed that the effects are varied and are not just of a financial nature. The most important of these are a lack of opportunities for planning, limited room for action, contact with civically engaged actors becoming more difficult and a diminishing sense of community, especially in community building. Since the start of the pandemic, civil society has been and remains heavily involved in reducing the consequences of the crisis in the best possible way. Therefore, new emerging needs of target groups were recognised, new topics became accessible and help for others was developed. Generally speaking, this increased the quantitative workload with regard to time and complexity, despite limited room for action and restrictions imposed by government guidelines.  However, there are reports of isolated calls of “Without events we have less money and more limited external impact. How long will that last for?“ “We’re noticing new and increased needs among the target groups,” especially in the areas of self-help and community building, and of shortfalls. Both are heavily dependent on the functions and fields of activity in with actors operate.

Read the studies here:

First study: A parachute for civil society? A study on the potential, needs and propositions during and after the crisis (Otober 2020) [in German]

Second study: Civil society during and after the pandemic (April 2021) [in German]