A report on research by Craig Fisher (RSM) and Darren Ward (Direct Impact Group) on the International NGOs operating out of NZ has recently been published by the Council for International Development (CID). While specifically considering INGOs, many findings also resonate in the broader charity/nfp sector in New Zealand.

“The impacts of COVID on aid charities will be ‘extremely challenging’, and could mean an
‘existential’ threat to the existence of some agencies, says a new report into New Zealand’s aid

‘Business as usual or operations as we used to know them, have gone forever.’

This comes at a time when famines are predicted to increase globally. In some countries, hunger could kill more people than COVID.

Development in the Pacific is being thrust back decades, thanks to closed borders


Many of the challenges are not new, but have been accelerated by COVID. There
are opportunities to improve the effectiveness of aid for those organisations that can
adapt quickly, concludes the report.

Key findings:
• 46% of aid charities said that COVID is a serious threat to their survival
• The most reported challenges include funding and programme continuity
• These were expected to peak later this year and remain as moderate threats through 2021.
• The traditional operating model for aid charities is no longer sustainable
• Organisations will need to adapt to a much more uncertain operating environment
• COVID has accelerated 10-year’s of change into a 3 to 5 year period, if not sooner
• There are fears that the aid sector will fare worse with both the public and government
because in tough economic times, ‘charity begins at home…and may now stay at home’.

The authors ‘expect there will be casualties’, but the crisis is a ‘perfect opportunity to …implement new structural, operational, and potentially more impactful models of operating.’

Recommendations include:
• Identify and articulate each organisation’s unique value
• Increase collaborations which will increase impact
• Consider shared services and even mergers
• Leverage our uniqueness as New Zealanders (practical, innovative and from a small
• Further leverage our location in the Pacific
• Increase the successful local ownership of aid, accelerated by COVID border closures
• Agree common measurements of impact and make impact the core focus.

The report is based on desk research, interviews with CEOs, key stakeholders (in New Zealand and
across the region), as well as online surveys. It was commissioned by CID.”

Source: CID Media release (8 September 2020) entitled “Aid sector at risk post COVID” (Thanks to Craig Fisher)

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