A focus on organizational resilience

“Covid-19 challenged us to be innovative and devise new ways of working… At the end of the year, all team members were equipped with agile mindsets that were alive to the need for being flexible.” - Institute for Young Women Development in Zimbabwe


Organizational resilience with UN Trust Fund Support
Organizational resilience with UN Trust Fund support

The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) promptly adjusted to ensure that its grantee organizations were strengthened and supported during the COVID-19 pandemic. Feedback from civil society organizations (CSOs) and women’s rights organizations (WROs) during 2020 showed that many were concerned about survival of the women and girls they serve, while ensuring their organizational existence.

The UN Trust Fund advocated for immediate, appropriate and effective global responses to the pandemic to ensure that CSOs/WROs could maintain their vital role as first responders serving survivors and sustain the foundation of the women’s movement – women’s organizations and women’s rights defenders.

Immediate support, flexibility and a focus on ensuring organizational resilience meant that, with UN Trust Fund support, 1,149 staff/partners could work from home effectively in 2020, an important investment for the health and safety of staff and partners during the pandemic. In addition, during the year, 3,321 UN Trust Fund grantees’ staff/partners reported improved knowledge and skills on how to integrate COVID-19 responses into work to end violence against women and girls.

Spotlight Initiative

The UN Trust Fund ’s role supporting CSOs/WROs on the front line of serving women survivors of violence was recognized through the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative, which infused an additional USD9 million in funding to 44 UN Trust Fund grantee organizations located in sub-Saharan Africa, focused on organizational resilience during the crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed challenges in terms of organizational sustainability and burn out among staff, which grantees utilized the influx of EU/UN Spotlight Initiative COVID-19 funding to address.

For instance, In Eswatini and South Africa, SONKE offered staff members psychosocial support in the form of counselling services to address stress and anxiety brought on by the pandemic. Additionally, SOLIFE in Nigeria enrolled all project staff in a health insurance plan to ensure their access to medical treatment, if necessary, during the implementation of project activities. In fact, due to the provision of such services and tools to support staff and the organization, 100 per cent of project interventions which were previously on hold because of COVID-19 were able to resume by the end of 2020.

In addition, in response to needs voiced by CSO/WRO partners, the UN Trust Fund organized a series of webinars, involving 420 participants, on how to manage effectively the additional Spotlight Initiative funding. Training covered project modification, cash-based interventions and procurement, and recommended procedures. In general, organizational capacity development activities reached more than 1,100 grantee participants in 2020 from all active cycles.

Over the next five years through its new Strategic Plan 2021-2025, the UN Trust Fund will continue to engage in principled, demand-driven grant giving and capacity development, focusing on organizational resilience.

Stay tuned for more on the importance of organizational resilience in the UN Trust Fund’s upcoming Annual Report.