TÜSEV News/ 07.04.2020

The State of Civil Society Organizations in Turkey amid the Precautions Against COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic is both a life-threatening health crisis of a global scale and a serious impediment to the welfare of many different sectors. The strict measures implemented to stop the contagion take a heavy toll on all other aspects of life and professions, including civil society. In these days, when cross-sectoral cooperation is even more important,  as Third Sector Foundation of Turkey—an organization that has been working towards strengthening the legal, fiscal and operational infrastructure of civil society organizations for more than a quarter century—we would like to draw attention to the issues outlined below:

As a global crisis, Covid-19 threatens all aspects of life, including the work of civil society organizations. These organizations, which already work with limited human resources and create valuable outputs through donations and grants, have postponed all their events indefinitely. It is thus vital for CSOs in Turkey to be eligible for the economic assistance granted to the other sectors. This is vital for Turkish civil society to endure this crisis and come out of it as a whole.

Because of their nature of work, CSOs are well connected with their beneficiaries, and they keep a close watch of their stakeholder’s needs. Involving CSOs in decision making processes concerning their specific target groups (such as the elderly, the disabled, the individuals in prison) when precautions or recommendations are being planned, will not only foster a thorough debate on the issues and remedies, but it also will contribute to the improvement of an efficient public sector-CSO cooperation.

Certain measures taken against the spread of Covid-19 have brought unexpected disruptions to CSOs’ project activities, which often are funded by grants and donations. At this point it is crucial for grantmakers, foundations, as well as other grant making institutions to evaluate the situation of the CSOs in its entirety. It is important to consider the sustainability of the CSO as well as the best interest of the beneficiary groups when decisions are made.