How Coordinated Crisis Response is helping our Community from WeSpeak Bermuda on Vimeo.


What is the national plan and how is it working?

1. What is the Third Sector’s coordinated effort?

In early March, it was becoming clear that when the pandemic reached Bermuda there was going to be a serious need for Third Sector nonprofit services. The Third Sector Coordinated Crisis Response Team (CCRT) developed, starting with the Bermuda Community Foundation (BCF) and Bank of Bermuda Foundation (BOBF). As charitable foundations they were reviewing how to mitigate the massive burden that was about to be placed on so many in our community.

Other Third Sector stakeholders were also raising the alarm: Age Concern, as advocate and supporter for the senior citizens’ population, realised this was more than they could handle without help. The group reached out to others with the expertise and resources to assist with the task ahead including, the Bermuda Health Council (BHC), the Inter-Agency Committee for Children and Families (IAC) and individuals Danielle Riviere (former Executive Director of Centre on Philanthropy) and Tina Nash (former Executive Director of Raleigh International Bermuda).

At the same time the Bermuda Government was assessing community needs for the weeks and months ahead. As a result, CCRT representatives are now members of an EMO sub-group, chaired by National Disaster Coordinator Steve Cosham. Having a seat at the table has been critical for the CCRT, enabling it to align efforts with the national plan of work. Involving the Third Sector at this level is a welcome first for Bermuda, and acknowledges the crucial contribution made by the nonprofit community.

2. The island has many helping services, charities and organizations, why create a single, collective group currently?

The value of this group is that it brings collective efforts and energies together to support the entire Third Sector. This is going to be far more effective than everyone working in their silos. In no way is the CCRT intended to replace the essential and direct service and programme delivery of the nonprofits. Its role is as connector, facilitating support and galvanizing resources. The main objective is to ensure that those entities servicing the needs of the people most at risk can continue to do so. As a country we are focused on making sure that those who have now become vulnerable as a result of the crisis, have access to support and services. Collective and coordinated efforts are the only way we can make this work.

The two Foundations are well placed to assist other donors in the community. Many companies and individuals want to give but are unsure of the most urgent requirements. Help is at hand with this central collaborative effort to direct their resources towards the most pressing needs. This should make the overall effort as effective as it can be.

3. In practice, how does the CCRT work?

To enable nonprofits to continue their critical services, CCRT conducted a needs assessment, through an online survey developed with the BHC. Approximately 60 nonprofits, churches and other organisations providing essential services were contacted and asked what they would need in the immediate to short term in order to remain open, continue providing services and potentially expanding to meet increased needs. A second survey was distributed to known corporate donors and other individuals to solicit offers of time, money, goods and services to meet the needs. Next step for the CCRT is to use this information to match identified needs with available resources. The hope is that it will decrease the likelihood of gaps in service.

4. What challenges do you expect will be faced, especially in light of how best to deliver services during this particular global pandemic?

At a time when Bermuda’s essential Third Sector services are most needed, they themselves are at their most vulnerable and in many cases fighting for survival. They are unable to work, have no volunteers, their fragile funding base have been hit and fees for service have stopped.

One of the specific challenges is that a significant number of volunteers in our community are senior citizens, and they are now vulnerable to the Coronavirus and need to stay home. This has created an immediate shortage of volunteers. Feeding programmes have been particularly challenged to provide food and deliver meals as a result. Nonprofits operate on a shoestring budget; volunteers are the lifeblood of their work and so this has become a serious issue.

Organisations such as counselling and addiction support services have had to transition from walk-in facilities to virtual online models. However, not all are equipped to do so, which has led to cuts in service. 

Overall, the CCRT is monitoring the needs, and the ability of service providers to meet them. Working with the EMO has been really valuable because it enables a direct link between governmental and non-governmental services, decreasing the likelihood of gaps in service.

5. If people in the community want to get involved, and help, how best can they do so?

The outpouring of support and requests to assist the community have been amazing. Many organisations have already jumped in and helped out with some early needs, funding and offers of supplies and food. For organisations or individuals able to contribute cash, gifts in kind, supplies or other needed items, there is a giving survey which helps to provide clarity around resources available.

As part of the same coordinated effort, the BCF has established the Emergency Fund for organisations and individuals who would like to contribute financially. 

The next phase of the work will involve reaching out to all nonprofits that have had to shut their doors, like so many businesses. These nonprofits may not be in the frontline of providing essential services right now, but Bermuda needs them longer term. We want to measure their needs and assess the impact of this crisis and the community lockdown. This will be a challenging economic crisis for the whole of Bermuda’s Third Sector. We need to make sure this sector is sustained for the future of our community and not just through the immediate crisis.