GNWS webinar #7 “Fundraising to Keep Shelters Going during COVID-19”


The seventh webinar in the GNWS series during the COVID-19 pandemic was on the topic of “Fundraising to Keep Shelter Services Going During a Public Health Crisis” on 6 May 2020 at 6:00 PM Washington, DC time.


  • Cindy Southworth – NNEDV
  • Kaitlin Geiger-Bardswich – Women’s Shelters Canada
  • Ana Cruz – Asociacion Calidad de Vida (Honduras)
  • Riekje Kok – The Netherlands
  • Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi – Nigeria
  • Ang Jury – New Zealand

Delivering a consistent message and finding funders who identify with your cause are keys to funding at NNEDV. Cindy Southworth says it is important to first build a relationship with potential corporate donors by offering expert advice, tips on protecting staff who may be subjected to violence at home, and creating a peer partnership. NNEDV has seen an increase in funding during the COVID-19 crisis. Cindy added that a Facebook donation account is a useful source of revenue.

The Canadian National Network has seen a doubling in donations during COVID-19, with many new donors offering support. Kaitlin Bardswich said this was largely due to the Network’s high media profile in recent week, with the executive director appearing on television to talk about the issue of domestic violence during lockdown. The Network has been quoted in the media, published press releases, launched “make a mask” and “Giving Tuesday” campaigns, and worked on social media initiatives including Twitter storms by asking celebrities to share tweets. The Canadian government has also been very supportive, offering additional funding to support shelters.

The situation is very different in Honduras, where shelters are at capacity but lack government support. Most funding comes from international donors, said Ana Cruz. Shelters have produced social media info graphics to publicize their in-kind donation needs, including disinfectant, face masks and other supplies. During the crisis, shelter staff are working long shifts of 15 days a month.

In Nigeria, shelters are also struggling to stay open. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi reported that NGOs are struggling to persuade the government to give coronavirus control measures a gender perspective. Abiola has been able to raise a small amount of money (US$3,000) but most help is coming from local communities, with households opening their homes to survivors of violence when shelters cannot cope with the demand.

Meanwhile, as lockdown measures are being relaxed in the Netherlands and New Zealand, shelters are preparing for a new phase in the crisis, and a possible surge in demand as women who were unable to report domestic abuse while under lockdown can now leave their homes to seek help.

Reference materials


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