With the help of Community Networks Aotearoa, Comvoices has launched its fifth biennial State of the Sector Survey, calling on all entities within the Community and Voluntary Sector to take part. The survey is released every two years to provide a consistent snapshot of the financial and operational health of this Sector.
“This fifth Comvoices Survey will not only provide us with an update on how our sector is faring, but its results will mean we hold ten years’ worth of longitudinal data,” says Comvoices Chair Dr Prudence Stone. “We believe our Snapshots have started to reveal increasingly clear trends about our sector’s wellbeing, some despite – some because of – the impact of Covid 19.”
The first Survey in 2014 had over 300 organisations participate and its results showed many were under severe pressure. 75% of the Survey’s Participants reported doing more work than 3 years ago and over 80% reported they did more work than was specified in their government contracts. Two-fifths of Survey Participants said they were unable to offer wage increases, with groups struggling to retain qualified staff and a few facing closure.
“The majority of participants in that Snapshot (60%) said they were not prepared to speak out publicly about their organizational struggle, for fear about losing competitive funding,” Dr Stone said. “It’s a critical reason why Comvoices exists, there’s a safety in collective numbers when speaking out about the Sector’s relational issues with government.”
Jump to 2020 and the challenges already faced by this Sector have been compounded by the Pandemic. Not only did rates stay high for Survey Participants that year reporting doing more for less, but there were new alarming indicators, such as the fall in active volunteer numbers, with 54% reporting reduced income and 46% reporting increased costs.
The last Snapshot wasn’t all bad news though, says Dr Stone. “Unsurprisingly, there was unprecedented innovation in our sector with 88% seeing a rapid uptake of new technologies and 75% reporting innovations in their program delivery too. More community organizations also reported more confidence in their partnerships with Government.”
Going into an election year in 2023, Dr Stone believes it is important that the voice of the Community and Voluntary Sector is heard. All organisations in the Sector are invited to respond to the Survey which should take no more than 20 minutes to complete. The Survey is open until 31st December 2022 and can be found here.