Continued from Part 1 – COVID-19 international giving guide: Regulatory requirements by country

International charitable giving was already complex in a pre-COVID-19 world. The global pandemic has only exacerbated these complexities and raised additional uncertainties. To help support organizations as they navigate funding international COVID-19 response efforts, Global Impact, supported by KPMG LLP, created the COVID-19 Regulatory & Response Matrix. The matrix provides a centralized source of information on 124 countries and territories across the globe, compiled through extensive in-country and remote research.

What is meant by COVID-19 relief?
The matrix explores two components of a country’s COVID-19 response:

  1. Has COVID-19 been declared as a state of emergency or defined as a natural disaster?
  2. Is COVID-19 support considered charitable?

These two simple questions conceal considerable complexity and insight into the severity of the crisis and subsequent response in the examined countries and territories.

An active state of emergency status for the COVID-19 pandemic is indicative of a government that is willing to deploy significant resources to address the disease. It is not necessarily an indicator of the severity of the infection rate or death tolls in that country, but rather a barometer for the government’s approach to the crisis as a whole.

The designation of COVID-19 as a charitable cause further indicates the mindset surrounding the disease. A country that specifically allows donations to fight COVID-19 may be one with typically strict charitable regulations or one that is particularly concerned about the toll the coronavirus may take – as well as the capacity of noncharitable institutions to address the issue. In any case, a charitable designation is an indicator of an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to fighting COVID-19, including the philanthropic front.

How have different countries approached COVID-19 relief?
Of the 124 countries that were studied, 100 have declared COVID-19 a state of emergency or defined it as a natural disaster. This high rate of adoption for emergency status demonstrates the widespread nature of the COVID-19 crisis and the pressure felt by governments to employ state resources to address the issue. It is a testament to its severity that a novel disease could reach crisis levels in so many nations in such a short period of time. This severity is the same reason why its spread has been so devastating for populations, and why there is such a demand for charitable aid to help address the issue. A natural disaster or emergency declaration can trigger the delivery of government funding and charitable support that would otherwise be unavailable. Governments are implementing these designations to help bolster medical responses and provide economic resources to lessen the fiscal impacts of the crisis.

As a reflection of the need for charitable support, 25 of the surveyed countries have explicitly stated that COVID-19 support is charitable. The reasons for a specific declaration are particular to each nation, and it should be noted that not listing COVID-19 as a specific charitable cause is not a rejection of its importance: All other nations simply relied on their preexisting legal codes to address COVID-19 donations.

Further analysis of the data reveals another interesting pattern: The countries and territories that did not declare COVID-19 a state of emergency or define it as a natural disaster are not regionally concentrated, meaning there is no consistent trend of neighbors declaring or not declaring a disaster. This finding demonstrates the internal nuances that compel countries to take, or not take, the actions above. Despite the facts that disease outbreaks are often regional, affecting neighboring nations, the internal dynamics of each country superseded the geographic pattern.

How can this information be used to empower your organization’s giving and impact? 
If your organization has a vested interest in a particular country, this portion of the matrix can be a great first step in determining how you will seek to assist the citizens of that country. For example, if an organization wants to make a difference abroad but does not know where to start, a simple way to narrow down their options is to choose only territories that are actively accepting donations to fight COVID-19. The matrix centralizes that information in one place, and allows the organization to make an informed choice of the country they will support in their fight against the pandemic. Alternatively, a nonprofit organization will find it easier to solicit donations that will go to the relief efforts in a foreign country if they can advertise that the country in question has designated COVID-19 as a national emergency and is accepting charitable contributions to support response efforts. These dual designations demonstrate that a country’s government is aligned to combat the pandemic, and will present a much more favorable environment for charitable investment.

These are just a few of the pieces of information that can be drawn from the highly detailed impact matrix. You are encouraged to explore the research and see what you can learn for yourself and for your organization, and share it with your peers! Check out the matrix, and keep an eye out for the third installment of this blog series, where we will explore COVID-19 relief financing. See you then!

Read COVID-19 international giving guide: Relief financing, part 3 of the COVID-19 giving series …