Philanthropy In The Age Of COVID-19

Susan Winer, March 17, 2020


What should or could the philanthropic community do? What is the role of funders and those with the resources to make a difference? Is there a role? How can trusted advisors help their clients address emerging and mounting problems? 

I thought it would be helpful to provide a perspective and some resources you can share with clients, ways in which they can help organizations and communities continue to do the work of making this world a better place. By starting that conversation with your clients you can make a significant difference for a great many people.

What advisors can do
-- Start by reviewing the funds your clients have available for charitable gifts. Are there additional funds, outside of their charitable vehicle(s) that could be made available? Discuss using non-cash assets; real estate or art for example in lieu of cash.

-- If your clients are already supporting organizations, suggest they ask their grantees what their communities or constituents need. What are the organization’s priorities right now?

-- If they have been funding specific programs or initiatives, suggest they consider making an unrestricted general operating gift so the organization can continue to deliver on their services and programs. Alternatively, they could provide funds to help community-based organizations and nonprofits prepare and enhance their crisis planning and emergency readiness so they can maintain operations and avoid disruptions in critical services and programs. 

-- Be an information resource for your clients. The following list provides important information that donors can use to better understand how to target their funds to achieve the greatest impact and provide desperately needed support.

Information to share with clients
-- Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Others: COVID-19 Coronavirus: How Philanthropy Can Respond  also

-- The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has excellent information. Tell  your clients to regularly check back for anything new

-- The Council on Foundations has a robust page of information that is constantly being updated

-- The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy is a good source of information about how to partner with organizations and other funders

Finally, encourage your clients to use all of the philanthropic tools available, beyond grant making to achieve the greatest and most immediate impact. Foundations, for example, can leverage their considerable convening power to help community stakeholders, business leaders, and public sector leaders collaborate to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive response. 

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