Our commitment, Corona

“Closer attention is now being paid to where donations are being used”

Roland Thomann, the director of Swiss Solidarity, explains how the coronavirus donations are being used. Swiss Post alone has given Swiss Solidarity over a million Swiss francs so far from the proceeds of the “COVID-19 Solidarity” stamp.

Simone Hubacher

What does coronavirus mean for Swiss Solidarity?

The coronavirus pandemic has presented us with challenges and opportunities in equal measure. For the first time ever we are dealing with a crisis that is affecting the whole of Switzerland and it’s one of the biggest collections for some time. We feel a sense of duty towards the Swiss people because they have shown solidarity to help others in so many situations. Despite the generous amount donated, we can unfortunately only focus on those people who have fallen through all the social safety nets. Redefining all the procedures was challenging as we had never imagined ever facing this kind of scenario. Fundraising in Switzerland is increasingly emotionally charged and where we use donations is being more closely scrutinized and is the subject of controversial debate. That’s why we will maintain our intensive efforts.

Which new problems have emerged for Swiss Solidarity in Switzerland as a result of the crisis?

In the event of a natural disaster in Switzerland, Swiss Solidarity works with proven partners – Caritas Switzerland and the Swiss Red Cross. But this situation is also having financial and social consequences for a wide range of target groups – especially after the health crisis has been overcome. Swiss Solidarity quickly sought additional national partners to enable it to provide support in a more diversified way. As well as national partners, we are also supporting local organizations to provide immediate aid, interim support, food aid and social assistance in Switzerland. Setting up this system – as of mid-May we were working with over 100 organizations – presents an enormous challenge for Swiss Solidarity. 

What has the situation been like over recent weeks?

The entire Swiss Solidarity team has been working from home since 16 March and had to organize the longest donation campaign in the history of Swiss Solidarity and the National Collection Day under very different circumstances. This also presented a huge logistical challenge and was only possible thanks to an experienced team that was well positioned digitally and which also drove further digitization forward. The Swiss people showed incredible solidarity towards Switzerland which was very evident, and, in turn, highly motivating for all Swiss Solidarity employees.

Swiss Solidarity: the strong team behind the boss
Swiss Solidarity: the strong team behind the boss

Why is it so important for Switzerland to provide support here?

Simonetta Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation, summed it up fittingly on National Collection Day: “We need solidarity and support but also resources and organizations which can really help the people affected by this situation.” We are fundraising for people who find themselves in hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic and who have fallen through the social safety nets and are not receiving any support from municipalities, cantons or the Confederation. This means the projects supported must complement the services of the public sector and insurance schemes and, in turn, there must be a need for them. The National Solidarity Day and the fundraising campaign, which has run for a number of weeks, showed those affected that they haven’t been forgotten.

The first funds, including those from Swiss Post which transfers them monthly, have been distributed. How quickly is it reaching those in need?

Swiss Solidarity launched the fundraising campaign on 23 March and by 27 March had already transferred over 1 million Swiss francs to Caritas Switzerland and the “Schweizerische Arbeiterhilfswerk”. Over 10 million francs – as at mid-May – have since been distributed to national and local organizations. Around another five million francs are set to be transferred shortly.

written by

Simone Hubacher

Editor