“Do you have a Voucher”? Food Banks and COVID-19

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Kelli Kennedy, University of York, UK.

“Do you have a voucher?” is one of the first questions asked to food bank users. I should know; as a volunteer at the Waterloo Oasis Foodbank in London I’ve asked the question countless times over a tea or coffee to someone seeking help. In light of the current COVID pandemic, more people will request vouchers, and unfortunately, many will not receive them.

UK Hunger and Food Insecurity in COVID-19

New research from a YouGov poll by The Food Foundation and the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC) revealed that more than 3 million people (6%) in Great Britain have gone hungry since the UK lockdown began in late March. The survey assessed household food (in)security through the following questions:

Thinking about since the UK went into official lockdown (i.e. since March 23rd), did you/anyone else in your household:

  1. Have smaller meals than usual or skip meals because you couldn’t afford or get access to food?
  2. Ever been hungry but not eaten because you couldn’t afford or get access to food?
  3. Not eaten for a whole day because you couldn’t afford or get access to food?

If the answer was yes to any question, the person is deemed food insecure. The most impacted groups include adults with disabilities, adults with children, and those identifying as BAME, according to a preliminary analysis of survey data by Rachel Loopstra of King’s College. With people falling into hunger and food insecurity, many look for help to put food on the table, including the use of food banks. Continue reading ““Do you have a Voucher”? Food Banks and COVID-19”

“Double Disaster”: What can global philanthropy learn from Australia’s consecutive bushfire and COVID-19 crises?

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Alexandra Williamson, Queensland University of Technology & Diana Leat, Independent Consultant and Visitor Professor at Cass Business School

If, as Oscar Wilde remarked, losing one parent may be regarded as a misfortune but losing two looks like carelessness, the same might be said of disasters. For Australian nonprofit organizations and philanthropic foundations scrambling to frame and action responses to the unprecedented damage caused by 2019-20 bushfires in four states, the advent of coronavirus seems worse than unlucky. But does Australia’s double experience of misfortune offer any useful insights?

While it is obviously too early for comprehensive national data on giving by individuals, corporates and philanthropic foundations, there are some key themes and reflections on the similarities, differences and challenges of Australia’s philanthropic response to disaster overload.

Unlike some disasters that happen almost instantaneously or with only a few days’ warning, both the bushfires and COVID-19 built over a period of months. Similarly, neither the bushfires nor COVID-19 could be simply ‘put out’ but had/will have to run their course (given our current state of knowledge on a vaccine). In another temporal dimension, both disasters require responders to think beyond immediate short-term response to longer-term recovery. Both disasters take a greater toll on those who are already disadvantaged, with a disproportionate impact on physical and mental safety, social and financial wellbeing. Lastly, both disasters restrict movement and access of and to people and resources. Nonprofit responders and funders cannot go into the field to observe and understand for themselves under COVID-19 lockdown conditions or bushfire emergency evacuations. Continue reading ““Double Disaster”: What can global philanthropy learn from Australia’s consecutive bushfire and COVID-19 crises?”

Charities are making giant leap towards cryptocurrencies in corona crisis

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Peter Howson, Nottingham Trent University, U.K.

This year was a leap year. In normal circumstances such a thing is nothing to celebrate in England, aside from an extra February day of bad weather, and waiting a day longer for one’s pay cheque. Today, how we all miss February. I will probably never forget that day in early March. A stranger in the street asks me where I had brought my 2 pints of milk (I paid £3 cash for it in the village pub as they were locking the doors indefinitely), before joining the queue at the fish and chip shop to buy a sack of potatoes. All our plans for the year; holidays, work projects, moving house, everything that was once considered concrete has changed in a matter of weeks for almost everyone in the whole world, in different ways.

The pandemic has triggered an unprecedented government support package for UK businesses, including for charities plugging the gap in underfunded medical and social care systems, weathered by a decade of austerity measures. The UK Finance Minister admits the £750 million of extra funding to support ‘front-line’ charities will not save them all from collapse during the corona crisis, while the charity sector as a whole faces a £3.7 billion shortfall over the next 12 weeks. Many social enterprises, small and international NGOs are in dire straits, as revenue from charity shops dries up, and nothing that was expected from summer events comes in during the lockdown. Cancellation of this month’s London marathon alone is estimated to cost the sector £66m. Continue reading “Charities are making giant leap towards cryptocurrencies in corona crisis”

Are all nonprofits becoming more ‘business-like’?

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Ben Suykens, Filip De Rynck & Bram Verschuere, Ghent University

As previous posts on this blog demonstrate, recent nonprofit management research is preoccupied with the idea that nonprofit organizations (NPOs) are increasingly becoming ‘business-like’ by incorporating corporate norms, values and practices. Scholars are generally critical of this supposed trend, highlighting that NPOs may well gain resources, influence and the opportunity to deliver more services but at great cost to mission, values and voluntary contribution. Continue reading “Are all nonprofits becoming more ‘business-like’?”