Responding to the covid-19 crisis

As a philanthropic initiative dedicated to democracy and solidarity in Europe, we work proactively to build stronger, more resilient societies in which everyone has access to the same opportunities and support. The pandemic has clearly been a stress test for our communities, which shows clearly where governments have created cracks, weaknesses or traps in the system that people fall through or into. At the same time, this is the moment to choose to build a stronger, more resilient society where everyone has access to the same opportunities and support.

We would like to shed light on the ways in which Civitates and its partners have tried to adapt to this new situation, as well as to offer hope and long-term solutions in these uncertain times.

Image by Cachete Jack for Fine Acts, Spring for Hope

Standing by our grantees

Below are some concrete examples of how we tried to help our grantee partners navigate the Covid-19 crisis.

Maximum flexibility: On 13 March we sent a note to all our grantee partners in which we assured them that we understand their work may require shifts in strategy, reprioritisation, and adjustments. We have provided extensions, budget modifications, advanced payments, and allowed for the reorientation of funding to respond to this time of extraordinary challenge.

Democracy as a crucial anti-virus

At Civitates we work for a strong and resilient civil society, a healthy online public discourse and independent journalism. All three are essential ingredients for the recipe that will help us emerge from this crisis in the best shape possible.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlights the importance of solidarity, resilience and community dialogue to overcome major crises. Governments’ reactions to the pandemic have accelerated all sorts of major economic, political, and social problems. This shows that citizens’ political, medical and economic choices must be informed by debates in which all voices are heard. This makes citizens’ awareness, civic participation, trustworthy information, and transparent institutions even more essential to ensure the public good.

Image by Ulas Eryavuz, Spring of Hope
Image by Ruchita Bait, Spring of hope

How our grantee partners are responding

Our grantee partners working for a strong and resilient civil society

In many countries across Europe, restrictive laws had already narrowed the space for civil society before the pandemic hit. Civil society groups are worried that governments could use the current crisis to (further) threaten the rule of law and democracy. Illiberal leaders in some countries have already taken advantage of the Covid-19 crisis to tighten their political grip by weakening checks and balances, imposing censorship, and expanding state surveillance. Moreover, given that a cure or an effective vaccine for the virus may not be developed for a while, countries will be forced to hold elections with various coronavirus-related restrictions still in place. This raises many questions, not just in relation to health and feasibility, but also fairness.