New report on the health, social and economic shocks of 2020 to help for-purpose sector build back better

The Centre for Social Impact (CSI) has today launched a detailed report of the impacts of the challenges faced in 2020, including the bushfire crisis and COVID-19 – the first of their Pulse of the For-Purpose Sector & Building Back Better initiative.

The national research program Pulse of the For-Purpose Sector & Building Back Better was launched in May 2020 to offer a rapid-research response in understanding and supporting the short-term needs of the sector; the evidence needed to support sector-based initiatives retool for a more inclusive and sustainable future; and a longitudinal data and research infrastructure for an ongoing analysis.

This first report of the national research program has been released to explore the unprecedented events of 2019-2020 created by the bushfires and the global pandemic and their associated challenges on Australia’s health, economic and social systems.

Detailing the widespread impacts of COVID-19 on finances, resourcing and disruption, the report explores attitudes towards government and sector reforms in regard to policy response to COVID-19 and provides an important ‘mid-pandemic baseline’ from which to track and make sense of changes within the sector.

CEO of CSI, Professor Kristy Muir, has expressed the importance of this study, in that its longitudinal dataset does not only offer a thorough reflection of COVID-19’s implications but provides the for-purpose sector with key insights needed for a better, brighter future in post-COVID-19.

“We all know 2020 has been an unprecedented year. Everyone has taken a hit one way or another, with significant implications particularly for people experiencing social or economic disadvantage. Looking forward, the data from this report aims to help us build back better and stronger,” Professor Muir said.

“This report seeks to support the organisations that support Australians. It provides a baseline to track and make sense of changes within the for-purpose sector and its operating conditions over time.”

The report uncovers the increasing need for social purpose services during the pandemic, with 8 in 10 organisations reporting an increase in demand, and the sector continuing to provide vital services in response to the social and economic shocks of 2020. Such shocks have had varied implications on the funding and stability of social purpose organisations.

The findings of the report reveal a list of financial and resourcing implications for the sector, with 85% of social purpose organisations reporting a reduction in revenue, even with JobKeeper.

The results presented in the report are not reflective of a ‘new normal’, but a state of flux in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and some uncertainty associated with multiple and ongoing social and economic shocks.

“This is only the first of many reports. CSI is excited to continue this research and seeks to contribute to relief and renewal efforts by arming the organisations and communities that the social sector serves with the data, knowledge and insights needed to recover from the devastations of 2020 and future events,” Professor Muir said.

The report presents findings from 524 people across the for-purpose sector, including Australian charities, philanthropy and grant making organisations, social service organisations, and social enterprises.