New Zealand's international aid charities depend on public donations for about two thirds of their revenue.
We are much more dependent than health or education charities, for example, where public donations are only $1 in $10 of their funding.
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But in the lockdown, like many businesses struggling without cashflow, charities can't fundraise and the public can't donate.
There's no way for the public to show support for aid to the Pacific, let alone to help over-crowded refugee camps where Covid-19 is already killing. Imagine having escaped one killer – Syrian leader Bashar-al-Assad – only to face another one in a pandemic. Charities may be the only source of food in the camps. Some families must choose between buying soap or food.
Cyclone Harold, the worst to hit Vanuatu since the deadly Cyclone Pam in 2015, has spread damage across the Pacific. More than 70 per cent of buildings have been damaged in Luganville, the second largest town in Vanuatu. Roofs have blown off houses, trees snapped and government buildings destroyed.
Even if we wanted to go there, the Vanuatu government will keep its borders closed to New Zealand humanitarian workers to stop the spread of the virus. Only relief cargo could be allowed in, most likely via New Zealand's Defence Force.
But there is still a lot that we can do. Aid charities can release stock, from tarpaulins for shelter to wash kits for sanitation. We can send money to support and pay the salaries of our Pacific partners - the first responders, who need all the help they can get.
The cyclone damage makes Covid-19 even more disastrous. We know of the effects here on businesses like Air New Zealand and thousands of countless tourism enterprises. But, in the Cook Islands, nearly 70 per cent of GDP comes from tourism; 46 per cent in Vanuatu.
We're not just being selfless when we help our neighbours. It's also in our own interest. If we eradicate the virus from New Zealand, we won't want a "third wave" coming back with a vengeance via the Pacific.
But our aid charities, so often on the front line in an emergency, are hamstrung. It's not just that they can't fundraise. They can't even pick up their mail.
As much as $500,000 in donations could be sitting in envelopes, waiting for aid charities responding to Cyclone Harold or for medical equipment and fresh water technology in refugee camps.
The first step is to recognise these services as "essential" so money already donated by New Zealanders can be urgently processed.
Then government can quickly lift the pressure on charities by increasing tax deductions for charitable donations, and introducing a Charities Stabilisation Fund to provide emergency funds similar to business support. Those charities that can prove they're needed, deserve to survive.
In Australia, charities have set up a "crisis cabinet" to help government work out how to support the sector. Just as former Air NZ CEO Rob Fyfe is leading a business group to advise government, the same could be done for charities.
The aid sector knows that in a post-pandemic world, the coming changes will be brought forward much sooner.
Business models were already being re-thought. Where businesses have had to change, and GE or Kodak have been replaced by Tesla and Google, our aid sector's future won't look like our past.
For example, according to research by JB Were, there are too many charities generally in New Zealand – about one charity for every 170 people, substantially more per capita than most other countries.
Aid charities need to be prepared to collaborate more, and even consider merging. A central development centre could be an incubator for new ideas, and provide shared back-office services (financial advice, human resources and IT) so the costs of running charities are reduced.
We can hand over leadership to the Pacific, so problems and priorities are defined in the Pacific instead of being determined here. We can work far more collaboratively with New Zealand businesses and social enterprises.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters is right, we have a "shared destiny" with our nearest neighbours in the Pacific. Their security is our security. Their good health impacts on us.
The current emergencies are forcing on us a "Pacific Reset" that might genuinely reset the way we provide aid.
• Josie Pagani is the executive director of the Council for International Development.