As Turkey Mozaik Foundation, we have been following the developments on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on civil society in Turkey. In order to better understand the existing and possible long term effects of the pandemic, with our partner the Support Foundation for Civil Society, we organised a series of online meetings between March 25 and April 3 with 25 of our grantees from the 2019-2020 grant cycle. We have also completed a series of meetings with the experts we collaborate with under the capacity building component of our Core Fund Programme along with various stakeholders from civil society in Turkey.
The information we have gathered from these meetings has enabled us to address and define the emerging needs and responses of the civil society due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on the information gathered, we had a chance to re-examine our grant making approach and decided to update and tune our grant programmes for the foreseeable future.
The grantee organizations answered our questions with regard to the impact of the pandemic on their operations and the projects, which were funded by the Turkey Mozaik Foundation and the Support Foundation for Civil Society. They also shared their reflections on the emerging needs of civil society in Turkey and how these can be addressed through our grant programmes.
In light of these discussions, we have identified the following trends with regards to effects of COVID-19 pandemic on our grantees. We believe some of these trends are also relevant for civil society organisations (CSOs) in Turkey at large:
- Most CSOs are using this period of confinement to digitalize their existing work to maintain their relationship with their beneficiaries. Those that are unable to use digital platforms due to the nature of their work (because they work in schools or content of their work requires face to face environments etc.) focus on their internal work (updating their websites, databases, etc.). Despite these initial efforts, the uncertainty with regards to the effects of the pandemic and how long the precautions such as physical distancing and lockdowns will last make it harder for CSOs to make future projections and prepare accordingly.
- In this time of uncertainty, CSOs are highly concerned about a possible global economic crisis that is likely to follow this emergency period. Under these circumstances, CSOs find it more difficult to cover their operational costs such as rent, human resources, etc. Organizations that fundraise from individual and corporate donors are expecting a financial bottleneck because their fundraising activities for the spring term are either postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19. In Turkey, civil society organisations were already facing challenges with regard to financial sustainability and access to human resources. These financial challenges are expected to have long-lasting effects on civil society. Especially, challenges with maintaining human resources may result in setbacks in terms of the use of CSOs’ expertise in the fields they work on.
- Many CSOs have started using technology more frequently and have found ways to transform their work accordingly. Nevertheless, from the perspective of civil society’s digital transformation, organisations still need additional resources to access digital platforms and require know-how to ensure digital privacy and security while adapting their content to the digital world in an effective way. When it comes to using digital tools and platforms, there is an ongoing learning process.
- CSOs highlight the need for grant makers to think and act more flexibly, focus on core funding, prioritize support to digital and organizational transformation, and promote exchanges and learning opportunities between different organisations.
After careful consideration of these findings, we have decided to update our grant making strategy both for existing grants and new programs to be opened in 2020 as follows:
We will continue to honor all of the commitments we have made in our existing grant cycles for the 2019-2020 period in line with the grant agreements. We have started one to one discussions with our grantees who are willing to make changes in their projects due to delays or postponements that occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While making these changes, it will be our priority to listen to our grantees, be flexible, and work together to find common ground.
New Grant Programmes
We are committed to adapt an approach that aims to understand the short, medium, and long term impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on civil society in Turkey and pursue a strategy that mainly focuses on supporting the needs of CSOs through – mostly – core funds.
In line with this perspective;
– In the short term, we will focus on supporting the survival of CSOs.
– In the medium term, we will focus on supporting their adaptation to the emerging needs of the new period.
– In the long term, we will focus on supporting CSOs’ organisational transformation.
In 2020, we will be launching all of our existing grant programmes (Core Fund, Children’s Fund, Arts and Culture Fund, Gender Equality Fund and others that we can fundraise for) and we will give emphasis on these two priorities in each grant programme:
- Responding to the needs that arise from changes in the ways CSOs operate (not only in terms of digital transformation but also taking into consideration the way CSOs organize, fundraise, deal with crisis etc.) as a result of physical distancing.
- Focusing on supporting anti-poverty measures, deprivation, and prioritizing organizations that work with disadvantaged groups who will become more vulnerable as a result of the global economic crisis that is highly likely to follow this emergency period.
To make sure that we are able to design our grant programmes in line with the emerging needs, we will be in contact with our grantees and stakeholders. We will continue to inform our donors, making sure that they are aware of the realities of civil society as well as our learnings from this period. We will be committed to developing opportunities for collaboration between new and existing donors.
We are aware that this period is full of uncertainties for all of us and civil society’s needs will change over time. Thus, while using this strategy document as a general framework, we will reexamine the needs of civil society before launching each grant programme.
While we are committed to launching all of our grant programmes as planned, it is likely that we will face challenges that may affect our foundation. Despite these challenges, we will be committed to our mission of acting as a bridge between donors and civil society organisations and we will work extensively to make sure that Turkey Mozaik Foundation will continue to generate resources from different donors to launch and implement our grant programmes as planned.
Below you can see our 2019 Grantees: