COVID-19: NGO sector and its 28.3 million of workers deserve a targeted help at the EU and national levels


COVID-19: NGO sector and its 28.3 million of workers deserve a targeted help at the EU and national levels

27 July 2020
The Donkey Sanctuary
That was the main take home message from the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Animal Welfare and Conservation meeting of 14 July dedicated to the Role of the Third Sector during Crisis and Recovery: Case of COVID-19 and Equine Welfare Charities.

Impact on equine welfare charities

The situation of many NGOs in the equine welfare charity sector is becoming more and more challenging. Most NGOs expect to suffer a significant setback for an extended period of time and some, especially smaller and local, potentially will cease to exist. The projected net income will certainly drop, fundraising events have been and the future ones will be cancelled, contingency plans are put in place in order to minimise losses.

“With the pandemic’s effect on the non-profit equine welfare sector already significant, the true impact is unlikely to be felt until winter and into 2021 and beyond – with inevitable consequences for local communities and governments. There are good examples of the sector acting to mitigate this impact, but government institutions must also do their part”, said Roly Owers, CEO of World Horse Welfare, during his presentation.

Indeed the concerns on the ground are evident. “Lack of responsible ownership and financial resources, abandonment, mistreatment, dealers, relinquishments are the most common concerns that spread across the variety of countries”, highlighted Barbara Massa, Country Director Europe at The Donkey Sanctuary who gave an overview of the situation.


The future ahead?

Despite the role of the NGOs in the economy and the gravity of the situation, there is little to no support offered by the EU or the individual countries. That is mostly due to serious discrepancy in the perception of the sector. 

“There are around 170,000 charities registered in the UK, employing roughly 3 per cent of the total workforce and accounting for just under 1 per cent of GDP. Or at least that’s what official statistics would suggest: in practice, charitable activity generates significantly more value that accounts for 10%”, explained Matt Whittaker, CEO of Pro Bono Economics. 

“Civil society organisations are facing a perfect storm: increased demand for their help just as their resources are being constrained. Getting government recognition of that – and therefore an appropriate level of support – starts with correcting the chronic undervaluation of the sector that currently exists” - concluded Mr Whittaker.

The European Third Sector employs an estimated 28.3 million workers what accounts to nearly 13% of the European workforce, the third largest after trade and manufacturing

“The upcoming economic recession will take the toll on economies, individuals and charities. The governments and the EU must undertake necessary steps to preserve jobs and to support a crucial socio-economic role of NGOs to strengthen our society” - concluded Vice-President Francisco Guerreiro, MEP.

Find more information on the website of the Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals


Iwona Mertin
Programme Leader Companion Animals