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17 posts from April 2020

Nonprofits Need Certainty in Uncertain Times

April 30, 2020

People_connectedThere are people who thrive on uncertainty — people who enjoy the rush of facing challenges with limited information and even less planning. I'm the other sort of person.

For those of us who prefer process over improvisation and who like to base strategy on data and experience, this is an especially difficult moment. The COVID-19 crisis has upended just about every part of our work. Nonprofit staff suddenly have to figure out how to work remotely, donors are dealing with an extremely precarious economic environment, in-person events are canceled, and that's not even the half of it. We are surrounded by uncertainty.

And yet so much of what we've learned about sound strategy and effective direct response is just as relevant now as it always has been. Our nonprofit partners are adapting to this moment in all sorts of creative ways, from virtual events to TikTok engagement to Zoom trainings for organizers. This kind of nimble adaptation is inspiring, but the most successful efforts share a few things in common.

For all the volatility and uncertainty in this moment, the latest edition of our annual Benchmarks Study identifies long-term trends that can ground nonprofits' strategy and guide their decisions.

Let the data guide your response in this moment

Given the challenges of suddenly working remotely and the overwhelming nature of the current crisis, many nonprofits are scaling back on their communications. Don't. Your cause still matters, even if it's been pushed off the front page. And your supporters still need to hear from you, to know that you value them, and to provide guidance in stressful times.

If you are a social media manager, that means you should be posting more, not less. Consider starting a social media group to help supporters maintain a sense of community — anything from a weekly Zoom check-in to a What's App group for your top donors. Do whatever it takes to stay connected: collect stories, bring joy, reach out to your influencers and ask them to do something meaningful. And there's plenty they can do — the nonprofits in our recently-released study reported that Facebook accounted for 3.5 percent of all online revenue last year and nearly 10 percent of all online giving to health nonprofits.

If you are a fundraiser, by all means, fundraise! Be transparent about how COVID-19 is affecting your cause, your nonprofit, the people you serve. Be honest about your fears for the future and about how much your donors matter. Consider going beyond simple mobile optimization and start looking at tools that make mobile donating easier and more attractive such as Apple Pay and PayPal. As the share of desktop users relative to mobile continues to decline, the average value of a mobile user increases. In fact, users on mobile devices accounted for half of all nonprofit website traffic and a third of all online donations in 2019.

Before the crisis, the key to effective digital fundraising was to communicate timely, emotionally relevant appeals designed to motivate supporters to feel like they can make a difference. That hasn't changed a bit. With many corporations scaling back on digital ads due to COVID-19 disruptions, there is even more space and opportunity for nonprofits to reach bigger audiences. Nonprofits invested 17 percent more in digital ads in 2019 than in 2018. That growth reflects a shift in priorities as well as the effectiveness of digital ads for lead generation, new donor prospecting, retention, and re-targeting.

Find ways to take your offline efforts online. Your annual gala is canceled? You can postpone or skip it this year — or you can find creative ways to let donors mingle, celebrate, and be inspired from the safety of their own homes. Your canvass operation is temporarily derailed? Double down on peer-to-peer texting.

With many in-person events canceled and supporters looking for ways to do socially-distanced good, the Facebook Fundraisers peer-to-peer platform, which generated 97 percent of all Facebook revenue for nonprofits in 2019, could be just what you're looking for to supplement lost revenue. The May 5 #GivingTuesdayNow event is the perfect moment to experiment, but nonprofits should consider creating their own peer-to-peer moments. Just don't forget that if you rely on Facebook Fundraisers, Facebook keeps most of the data, not you.

Remember: you know what your supporters respond to, you know why your cause matters, you know how to do good. Don't let logistics and tech get in the way of applying that knowledge and experience.

Plan for a return to "normal"

This is where we worriers, we planners, we lovers of certainty can really shine. Because while we don't know how much longer we'll be sheltering at home, we know that eventually it will end. Use the time now to be ready for that day.

For many nonprofits, long-term planning is the hardest thing to do well. There's always so much going on now that it's nearly impossible to make a long-term plan, let alone stick to one. But with so many limits on what we can do in this moment, this is the perfect time to re-articulate your vision, create your checklist, and commit to making real progress on the other side of this crisis.

That may mean developing a road map to optimizing your homepage for donor conversion. It may mean a shift toward a fundraising model that prioritizes monthly giving and long-term retention over short-term acquisition. Whatever the big, scary, complicated problem you've been waiting for a chance to address — now is the time to tackle it.

None of us know what the future holds. Right now, most of us don't even know what tomorrow holds. But we don't have to be helpless in the face of uncertainty. We have the power to leverage what we know, to inspire the people who are looking to us for hope and guidance, and to create certainty in this most uncertain of times.

 For more free resources designed to put your nonprofit on a firmer footing, see the complete 2020 Benchmarks Study at mrbenchmarks.com or visit our blog at mrss.com/lab.

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Sarah DiJulio is managing partner at M+R.

5 Questions for...Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director, Wallace Global Fund

April 29, 2020

Ellen Dorsey has served since 2008 as the executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, where she helped launch Divest-Invest Philanthropy, a coalition of more than two hundred foundations that have pledged to divest their portfolios of fossil fuel companies and deploy their investments to accelerate the clean energy transition. Dorsey and Divest-Invest Philanthropy signatories were awarded the 2016 inaugural Nelson Mandela – Graca Machel Brave Philanthropy Award.

Earlier this month, the fund announced that it would pay out 20 percent of its endowment this year in support of COVID-19 relief and ongoing systemic change efforts and called on other funders to increase their grantmaking. 

PND spoke with Dorsey about the fund's decision-making process, the moral obligations of foundations in a time of crisis, and the longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dorsey_EllenPhilanthropy News Digest: What was the impetus behind the fund's decision to commit 20 percent of the endowment to grantmaking in 2020, and how did you and the board arrive at that amount? 

Ellen Dorsey: We have said for a while now that philanthropy cannot engage in business as usual, either by failing to align our investments with our missions or not giving at a level commensurate with the seriousness of the many challenges we face. Before COVID-19, we were already calling for philanthropy to declare a climate emergency and increase giving levels over the next ten years. COVID-19 was yet another overlapping shockwave added to the list of threats that compounded our sense of urgency.  

For too long, philanthropy has been content to give the bare minimum — the 5 percent required by law — while growing its endowments. Even before COVID-19, the Wallace Global Fund felt it was unethical for any foundation to grow its endowment during a five-alarm fire, particularly given the many financial and logistical challenges faced by our grantees. 

As for the percentage decision, it happened organically. We were already planning to spend a significant percentage of our endowment this year on critical work being done within our core priority areas, and we invested 100 percent of our stock market gains — close to 22 percent — in 2018. Keeping our investments aligned with our mission is something that has long been a board priority. We see this as consistent with the legacy of our founding donor, former U.S. Vice President Henry A. Wallace, and his warning that democracies must put people before profits if they plan to survive. 

PND: In a joint opinion piece with the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy's Aaron Dorfman, you argued that "it is no time for philanthropy to think about cutting back...[instead, it should] give more to address the public-health crisis while continuing to fund existing social and systemic change efforts." You've said elsewhere that preserving foundation endowments instead of boosting granmaking was "both immoral and a failure to honor the mandate that foundations have to serve society." Have you received any pushback from CEOs at other foundations? And do you think philanthropy will take this "opportunity to fundamentally rethink past practices and upend the status quo," especially with respect to the mandatory 5 percent payout requirement?

ED: Ultimately, it's an empirical question. We will see. Right now, many foundations are stepping up and making significant pledges to address COVID-19 and the related economic crisis. Will enhanced giving continue as the reality of reduced endowments sinks in later this year and persists into 2021? The fallout of COVID-19, coupled with the spiraling climate catastrophe, requires dramatically more funding, not less. We have a decade to fundamentally reduce emissions and change the energy base of our global economy while creating more sustainable and equitable systems.

What we need from philanthropy goes beyond simply spending more. Frankly, if ever there was a time to fund system change work, it is now. We need to break the corporate capture of democracy, create new patterns of ownership, change the growth-only measures of economic and societal success, level patterns of inequality, and meet the basic human needs of billions, all while reversing the climate catastrophe barreling down on humanity. Philanthropy needs to support movements that are advancing new paradigms, support systemic theories of change that confront our unjust system, and invest its money in a way that is consistent with these values.

PND: As you've acknowledged, some foundations have taken steps to provide more — and more flexible — support for nonprofits, while more than seven hundred foundations have signed on to the Council on Foundationspledge to do so. Are we seeing a shift among foundations toward more grantee-centered practices? Or will things revert to the status quo after we get to the other side of this crisis?

ED: History shows that there is a tendency among philanthropy to scale back when times get tough. For example, in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession, philanthropic grantmaking dropped by 15 percent. We've been really encouraged to see the groundswell of statements calling for philanthropy to use this moment to break that bad habit. It is particularly important given the unique vulnerabilities faced by nonprofits, movements, and the communities they serve. 

It is hard to say right now whether the status quo will fully return in any sector, but I will say that philanthropy has an obligation to resist it. Getting rid of COVID-19 will do nothing to stop the dire consequences we were already facing as the result of a number of threats, most notably climate change. In fact, if society returns to its established habits of emitting more carbon into the atmosphere, damaging or destroying ecological habitats, and giving corporations free rein to pursue the myth of limitless economic growth, the consequences of climate change will only continue to worsen.

The same could also be said for economic inequality, the rising privatization of public resources around the world, gender-based violence in the Global South, and the rise in misogyny faced by women around the world. There is no vaccine for social injustice. We cannot allow ourselves to be so relieved once the COVID-19 crisis has passed that we ignore the fissures in society it has exposed. Philanthropy has both an opportunity and a duty to partner with people-centered movements that are fighting for systems change and broad, structural reform today, and we must continue to support them in the aftermath of this pandemic. 

PND: This is not the first time the Wallace Global Fund has used its investment portfolio to boost the impact of its grantmaking; in 2018, the fund pledged to invest all its gains from the previous year into organizations working to advance social and environmental justice. Have you seen tangible returns on those investments?

ED: Yes, without a question. We have already seen positive impacts from our funding and there are results to come that we cannot yet see. We fund progressive social movements and systemic change work both globally and in the U.S. We believe building people power is the necessary ingredient to challenging entrenched economic and political interests. We have been funding the fossil fuel divestment movement for over a decade and, to date, there are more than a thousand institutions  around the globe that have divested — institutions with a combined $14 trillion under management. We have funded the youth climate movement, the so-called climate strikers, and those calling for a Green New Deal. They are changing the debate on climate in truly significant ways. We're also supporting groups around the world that are challenging authoritarian governments and defending basic human rights.  

Often those fights seem insurmountable, but defending the front lines is often the only antibody to the virus of authoritarianism and is essential if we are to preserve our democratic ideals and way of life. In the U.S., our grantees are working to transform conditions of inequality, defend democratic institutions, get toxic money out of our political system, and break up monopolies. These are big and audacious goals, not easy to measure in the near term, but they absolutely are critical in terms of the system change work we need. I think it's fair to say we would rather invest in deep change than obsess about lowest-common-denominator metrics. 

PND: What, if anything, do the systemic social change efforts you've urged your philanthropic peers to support — climate action, defending the rights of marginalized populations, strengthening civil society and democracy — have to do with the public health and economic emergencies caused by COVID-19?

ED: It's true that all those issues were issues before COVID-19. For example, we know that seven hundred people a day were dying from poverty in the U.S. before the virus ever reached our shores. But COVID-19 has laid bare the many ways in which it is not the great equalizer many claim it is.

Communities of color have been disproportionately devastated by the virus. Places with higher levels of carbon-based pollution are seeing corresponding spikes in death rates. Voting rights are under increasing threat from a lack of contingency planning and stalled efforts to expand vote-by-mail nationally. And as millions of small businesses were forced to close their doors — many for the last time — American billionaires made more than $300 billion.

These injustices are all interconnected. One of the movement leaders who inspires me most, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II of the Poor People's Campaign, has built a movement on the simple yet profound notion that the struggles against systemic racism, inadequate health care, poverty, voter suppression, ecological devastation, environmental injustice, and human rights abuses are not separate struggles at all. We are dependent on each other in our quest for liberation, and our narratives must be bound together if we hope to win.

— Kyoko Uchida

The Nonprofit Sector and the 'Shake Shack Effect'

April 27, 2020

Diversity-inclusion-292x300These days, we're hearing a lot about how federal legislation passed in response to the coronavirus public health emergency is bailing out big businesses at the expense of small restaurants, mom-and-pop shops, and immigrant-owned stores. When big chains like Shake Shack and universities with large endowments such as Harvard receive millions of dollars in federal loans, we shouldn't be surprised that the news is greeted by demands the funds be returned.

Inequities in the administration of such programs aren't just a public-relations concern for well-endowed institutions and big businesses, however. At a time when they are desperately needed, historically-underresourced organizations in the nonprofit sector led by people of color and working closely with communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic are concerned about their own survival. Indeed, the pandemic has revealed many of the long-standing structural disparities that exist in the United States. If, as a society, we are serious about addressing such disparities, then funders and donors who support nonprofits must step up to ensure the long-term survival of groups advocating for the needs of vulnerable communities.

As the COVID-19 emergency unfolds, smaller community-based and people-of-color-led organizations are serving as a lifeline for black, Indigenous, Latinx and Asian communities, undocumented immigrants, and queer and trans communities. Domestic violence agencies are supporting survivors, organizations serving Indigenous and African-American communities are ensuring their access to water and health care, neighborhood-based providers are helping people with limited-English proficiency complete government forms, and immigrant-serving groups are ensuring that undocumented people are able to secure legal advice and protections. Beyond these frontline providers, people-of-color led organizations are taking the lead in building power and making demands for structural change, ranging from universal basic income to decarceration to migrant justice.

Even before the pandemic, many of these nonprofits were facing challenges. According to a survey by the Nonprofit Finance Fund conducted in 2018, 65 percent of nonprofits who serve low-income communities were worried they couldn't meet demands for their services, while 67 percent said that federal policies were making life harder for their clients. Our own surveys on race and leadership consistently reveal that nonprofit executives of color face more funding challenges than white executive directors and CEOs, while our 2019 survey found that more than a third of leaders of color (compared to less than a quarter of their white counterparts) reported that they never or rarely get "funding that is comparable to peer organizations doing similar work."

For these and other reasons, community-based nonprofits working closely with those disproportionately affected by the virus should be prioritized in future federal stimulus packages, state supplemental funds, and philanthropic initiatives. Federal and state recovery packages should create carveouts for underresourced organizations working in vulnerable communities so that they do not have to compete with larger, historically-well-funded groups for a limited pool of funds. Given that many small organizations do not have relationships with banks due to historic barriers in accessing loans and because lenders tend to prioritize bigger-budget organizations, the process of accessing loans also should be opened and made more accessible. While efforts are under way in the nonprofit sector to secure expanded access to the Paycheck Protection Program for larger groups and pass a universal charitable deduction, a true racial equity framework requires us to center the needs of organizations working in and closely with the most vulnerable communities. In addition, nonprofit organizations with large reserves that don't need an immediate loan could follow the lead of the #ShareMyCheck effort and opt not to compete with smaller nonprofits and underresourced groups with manifestly greater needs.

For their part, foundations can do more to address the racial disparities laid bare by the pandemic by scaling organizations that are most proximate to needs in vulnerable communities while increasing their support for organizing and power-building strategies. It's also important that foundations review their grantmaking through a racial equity lens to determine whether dollars are actually going to organizations serving the communities most affected by the virus. Foundations such as the Boston Foundation, the Emergent Fund, and the Groundswell Fund have all launched initiatives focused on supporting organizations led by people from and working with communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

It's true that most nonprofits find themselves overwhelmed by the scale and scope of the crisis. But not all nonprofits are created equal or have equal access to the resources they need. As a sector, we cannot ignore people-of-color-led community-based groups working to meet urgent needs during this crisis. To close the nonprofit racial equity gap, we must do everything we can to ensure that these groups not only make it through this national emergency but are positioned to thrive. In doing so, we will be sustaining the communities that depend on them and helping to ensure that they, too, come out of the crisis stronger.

Deepa_iyer_frances_kunreuther_for_PhilanTopicDeepa Iyer is senior advisor at the Building Movement Project, director of SolidarityIs, and the author of We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Communities Shape Our Multiracial Future.

Frances Kunreuther co-directs the Building Movement Project and is co-author of two books, From the Ground Up: Grassroots Organizations Making Social Change and Working Across Generations: Defining the Future of Nonprofit Leadership.

Foundations Step Up Funding for COVID-19 Response Efforts (April 14-26, 2020)

April 26, 2020

SARS-CoV-2As COVID-19 continues to spread in the United States, private foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the immediate needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. Here's a roundup of grants from the last few days:


Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Redwood City, CA | $6.3 Million

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has announced $5 million in COVID-19 response grants, with a focus on increasing access to broadband and high-quality learning opportunities for all children and supporting professional development for educators as well as the social, emotional, and mental health of teachers and families. Grant recipients include the Alliance for Excellent Education ($125,000), Education Trust ($200,000), and Education Leaders of Color ($250,000).

Earlier, CZI announced grants totaling $300,000 to help students in underserved communities transition to distance learning as schools are forced to close by the virus. A grant of $200,000 to EducationSuperHighway will support the Digital Bridge project's efforts to provide connectivity to thousands of students, while a grant of $100,000 to Fugees Academy — a network of tuition-free independent schools in Georgia and Ohio — will fund efforts to foster the safety and well-being of students and ensure the continuity of their education. The LLC also pledged $1 million for COVID-19 relief efforts on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i. Grant recipients there include Wilcox Medical Center, the Hawaii Community Foundation, and 'Aina Ho'okupu O Kīlauea.

Fiske Family Foundation, San Diego, CA | $10,000

The Fiske Family Foundation has announced a donation of $10,000 to the North County Food Bank, an affiliate of the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank. The funds will be used to provide fifty thousand meals to families impacted by the economic fallout from COVID-19. In addition, the foundation donated $50,000 to the Poway Unified School District Foundation to support immediate and unforeseen nutrition and distance-learning needs, which may include continued meal service and resources for distance education such as Internet-accessible laptops.

Open Hearts Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $100,000

Co-founded by actress and philanthropist Jane Seymour, the Open Hearts Foundation has announced a commitment of $100,000 to launch an Emergency Relief Fund in support of frontline nonprofits in Los Angeles and New York City serving women and children during the public health emergency. Initial awards include matching grants to the Children's Lifesaving Foundation ($25,000), Jenesse Center ($10,000), and Mending Kids ($10,000), as well as grants to Children's Hospital Los Angeles ($5,000), the Association to Benefit Children ($25,000), and Harlem Children's Zone ($25,000).

Conrad Prebys Foundation, La Jolla, CA | $350,000

The University of California, San Diego has announced a $350,000 challenge grant from the Conrad Prebys Foundation to match donations, on a one-to-one basis, to the university's COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. The fund will support COVID-related research and frontline healthcare efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, Los Angeles, CA | $1 Million

Actress Charlize Theron and her foundation, the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP), have announced a $1 million commitment in support of COVID-19 relief efforts, including $500,000 to help prevent gender-based violence. Together for Her, a partnership with CARE and the Entertainment Industry Foundation, will direct the funds to domestic violence shelters and community-based programs providing critical services, including safe accommodation/shelter, case management, psycho-social support and counseling, helplines, crisis intervention, sexual and reproductive health services, legal services, and advocacy.


Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Denver, CO | $90,000

The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation has announced DEI Opportunity grants totaling $90,000 to arts and culture organizations led by and serving historically marginalized individuals that have been impacted by COVID-19. Unrestricted grants of $5,000 each were awarded to eighteen organizations — an increase from the ten the foundation originally planned to award before the onset of the public health crisis.


Lewis Prize for Music, Coral Gables, FL | $1 Million

The Lewis Prize for Music has announced the launch of a COVID-19 Community Response Fund with a $1 million commitment in support of creative youth development (CYD) organizations responding to the needs of youth impacted by the public health emergency. Grants ranging from $25,000 to $50,000 will provide direct support to music organizations and leaders taking a leadership role in addressing the impacts of the virus.


George and Frances Ball Foundation, Muncie, IN | $200,000

The George and Frances Ball Foundation has announced grants totaling $200,000 to local nonprofits working to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Recipients include Back to School Teachers Store, for the purchase of supplies to include in home-learning kits for Muncie Community Schools elementary students; Christian Ministries, for the purchase of cleaning supplies for shelters as well as food pantry distributions; and the Muncie Children's Museum, to offset operational expenses and costs associated with the development of online programming.

Lilly Endowment, Indianapolis, IN | $1.1 Million

The United Way of the Wabash Valley has announced a $1.1 million COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative Grant from the Lilly Endowment and Indiana United Ways. The funds will support the Wabash Valley COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, which was launched in partnership with the Wabash Valley Community Foundation to assist human services organizations working to meet the COVID-related financial needs of individuals and families not eligible for government or other relief programs.


Horizon Foundation, Columbia, MD | $1 Million

The Horizon Foundation has announced grants totaling $1 million in support of frontline Howard County healthcare workers and institutions, mental health services, and efforts to enable safe distancing in the county's homeless shelter and residential programs for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Recipients include Howard County General Hospital ($500,000), Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center ($50,000), and the Arc of Howard County ($50,000).

Robert I. Schattner Foundation, Rockville, MD | $105,000

The American Kidney Fund has announced a contribution of $105,000 from the Robert I. Schattner Foundation to its Coronavirus Emergency Fund in support of low-income dialysis patients and those who have recently received transplants. The grant will provide emergency assistance to patients in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia who need help paying for food, transportation, medications, and/or medical supplies.


Ruderman Family Foundation, Boston, MA | $110,000

The Ruderman Family Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant in support of mental health services for medical professionals at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Boston Globe reports. The foundation also contributed $10,000 to the Boston Police Foundation to expand clinic hours for police officers who want to talk confidentially to a mental health professional.


Bloomberg Philanthropies, New York, NY | $10 Million

Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a $10 million commitment to the International Rescue Committee in support of efforts to mitigate the immediate and longer-term impacts of COVID-19, as well as secondary impacts on vulnerable populations globally. The flexible funding will allow IRC to pivot its COVID-related efforts to where they are needed most in the more than forty countries and twenty U.S. cities where it is working on the front lines of the pandemic.

Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, New York, NY | $4.9 Million

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust — which is headquartered in New York City but has a program office in South Dakota — has announced grants totaling $4.9 million in support of efforts to care for COVID-19 patients and protect frontline healthcare workers in the Dakotas and Mountain West region. To help reduce the risk of infection to healthcare workers performing hands-on CPR on COVID-19 patients, the foundation awarded $4.7 million to medical facilities in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming to help them purchase more than three hundred and fifty LUCAS mechanical CPR devices. In addition, a $200,000 grant to the American Heart Association will assist in creating and disseminating up-to-date training on the use of ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York, NY | $4 Million

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has announced a $4 million emergency grant to the American Indian College Fund to assist college students whose educational progress has been affected by the pandemic. The fund will distribute the money to its network of tribal colleges — which were already affected by historical inequities, structural and enrollment-related challenges, and overly burdened financial aid budgets — to help address immediate needs and support new and returning students later this year.


Phillips Foundation, Greensboro, NC | $500,000

The Phillips Foundation has announced a $500,000 grant in support of the Greensboro Virus Relief Fund, which was created by United Way of Greater Greensboro, the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, and the City of Greensboro. The grant includes $250,000 to UWGG in support of its emergency relief efforts and $250,000 to a revolving loan fund at CFGG that will support recovery efforts in the medium and longer term. As of mid-April, the Greensboro Virus Relief Fund had provided more than $1.3 million to fifty-eight local nonprofits working to address the needs of Guilford County residents impacted by COVID-19 and the resulting economic shutdown.


Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, Cleveland, OH | $5.6 Million

The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation–Israel has announced that the Cleveland-based Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation is donating NIS 20 million ($5.6 million) to assist Israeli citizens impacted by the spread of the virus. The gift includes NIS 1.75 million ($494,000) to assist residents of Jerusalem, NIS 1.5 million ($424,000) in support of new immigrant soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces, and NIS 1 million ($282,000) for cultural activities on IDF bases designed to provide entertainment for soldiers and income for local artists.


Henry L. Hillman Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA | $3 Million

The Henry L. Hillman Foundation has announced commitments totaling $4 million in support of COVID-19 response efforts, including a previously announced $1 million contribution to launch the Pittsburgh Foundation's Emergency Action Fund. The other commitments include $350,000 to help Allegheny County meet the immediate needs of vulnerable residents and grants totaling $1.65 million in basic needs support for nonprofits serving vulnerable communities; $115,000 to the University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research; $250,000 to Global Links to coordinate personal protective equipment (PPE) supply and distribution and other equipment needs for frontline responders; and $700,000 in gap funding for minority- and women-led businesses and nonprofits in the region.


Russell Family Foundation, Gig Harbor, WA | $1.7 Million

The Russell Family Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.7 million in support of local COVID-19 response and relief efforts. Grants include $1 million to the Pierce County Connected Fund to fund services for residents impacted by the public health crisis; $670,000 in unrestricted general operating support — converted from Environmental Education grants — for twenty-six nonprofits; and $25,000 to RAIN Incubator in support of its efforts to boost regional COVID-19 testing capacity.


Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon, Buckhannon, WV | $4 Million

The Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannonhas announced a first round of grants totaling $100,000 from its COVID-19 Emergency Response Initiative in support of nonprofits and local agencies serving communities in Barbour, Lewis, Randolph, Upshur, and Webster counties. Grant recipients include the Mountaineer Food Bank, which was awarded $50,000 in support of twenty-three local food pantries, mobile markets, and food box distributions; and West Virginia Local Health, which will receive $50,000 in support of its efforts to assist each of the five county health departments with key activities during the public health emergency.


"Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Commits $5 Million to COVID-19 Response for Educators and Families." Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Press Release 04/20/2020.

"CZI Supports Services for Students in Underserved Communities Impacted by COVID-19." Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Press Release 04/08/2020.

"Hawaii Covid-19 Daily News Digest April 11, 2020." State of Hawaii Department of Health Press Release 04/11/2020.

"Fiske Family Foundation Donates $50,000 to the Poway Unified School District Foundation to Support Nutrition Needs and Distance Learning for Students During COVID-19 Public Health Orders." Fiske Family Foundation Press Release 04/21/2020.

"The Open Hearts Foundation Establishes Emergency Relief Fund With $100,000 in Grants." Open Hearts Foundation Press Release 04/13/2020.

"Conrad Prebys Foundation Awards $350,000 Challenge Grant to Support UC San Diego’s COVID-19 Efforts." University of California, San Diego Press Release 04/13/2020.

"Charlize Theron and Her Foundation CTAOP, CARE, & Entertainment Industry Foundation Launch Campaign to Fight Gender-Based Violence During COVID-19." Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Announces DEI Opportunity Grants, Awards $90,000 in Funding to 18 Organizations." Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Press Release 04/20/2020.

"The Lewis Prize for Music Announces $1M Covid-19 Response Fund to Support Youth Music Organizations, Communities Amid Pandemic." Lewis Prize for Music Press Release 04/14/2020.

"George and Frances Ball Foundation Grants $200K in COVID-19 Emergency Support." Star Press 04/12/2020.

"United Way of the Wabash Valley Secures $1.1MM Economic Relief Initiative Grant." United Way of the Wabash Valley Press Release 04/20/2020.

"Horizon Foundation Announces $1 Million in New COVID-19 Emergency Grants." Horizon Foundation Press Release 04/13/2020.

"American Kidney Fund Receives $105,000 From Robert I. Schattner Foundation to Fund Coronavirus Emergency Grants for Kidney Patients in D.C., Maryland and Virginia." American Kidney Fund Press Release 04/13/2020.

Gal Tziperman Lotan. "As Coronavirus Fight Progresses, A Focus On First Responders' Mental Health." Boston Globe 04/13/202.

"Mike Bloomberg Commits $10 Million to the International Rescue Committee for their COVID-19 Pandemic Response and Additional Work in Some of the World’s Most Vulnerable Communities." Bloomberg Philanthropies Press Release 04/23/2020.

"Helmsley Grant Helps Healthcare Providers Gain Up-to-Date Training on Ventilator Use During COVID-19." Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Helmsley Grants $4.7M to Fund Life-Saving Technology to Confront Cardiac Threat From COVID-19." Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Press Release 04/20/2020.

"Mellon Foundation Announces $4 Million Emergency Relief Grant to the American Indian College Fund in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic." Mellon Foundation Press Release 04/20/2020.

"Phillips Foundation Grants $500,000 to Greensboro’s COVID-19 Relief Efforts." Phillips Foundation Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation of Cleveland Donates NIS 20 Million in Covid-19 Aid to Israeli Citizens." Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation–Israel Press Release 04/20/2020.

"Henry L. Hillman Foundation Takes Action in Response to COVID-19: Releases Over $4 Million in Emergency Response Grants." Hillman Family Foundations Press Release 04/10/2020.

"$1 Million for COVID-19 Emergency Response in Pierce County, $670,000 in Unrestricted Funding for 26 Puget Sound Community Groups." Russell Family Foundation Press Release 04/13/2020.

"Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon Announces COVID Funding Awards." Pallottine Foundation of Buckhannon Press Release 04/20/2020.

Earth Day 2020 Is an Opportunity for a New Philanthropy

April 23, 2020

Water flowing in my cornfield, like a hundred miniature rivers all at once,
carrying a simple message for a complex world.

Earth-Day-blue-2499-sq-1I clearly remember the first time I heard about Earth Day and someone mention the word ecology. Back then, in 1970, ecology was connected to a hip idea that I understood as "don't litter." The movement to clean up the environment was emerging, and many were moved by the Keep America Beautiful (Crying Indian) PSA — the one in which a noble-looking Indian paddles through an industrial wasteland and ends up shedding a single tear on a litter-strewn beach. (One thing we didn’t know, back then, was that "Iron Eyes" Cody, the "Indian" in the ad, was an Italian-American actor who had made a career out of portraying Native Americans in films.)

When I was about ten years old, my grandfather taught me how to whistle like a meadowlark so I could have conversations with them. By varying the pitch, rhythm, and tone of my whistle, meadowlarks would respond to me, and we would toss our calls back and forth until my mouth became too tired or dry to whistle any longer. The language of the meadowlark is theirs alone, but I knew they were trying to communicate with me. Later, in college, I learned that our planet and the universe are incredibly complex, yet in that field with the meadowlarks, the world was a simple and beautiful place. It was Albert Einstein, I think, who said: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." I couldn't agree more.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing even the biggest players in philanthropy to rethink and readjust their strategies and forcing them to come to grips with unexpected forces that could threaten the stability of our society and the planet. It's enough to make one cry, but if we think of Earth Day 2020 as a new starting line, there are several things we can do to get us moving forward with renewed vigor.

Reject a return to normal. A large part of the globe is trying to look past the pandemic and is hoping for a return to normal. But most of us know "normal" has not been satisfactory or adequate, especially for marginalized peoples. As a result of deliberate policies, millions of people around the globe are subject to living conditions that unfairly aggravate their efforts to obtain nutritious food and clean water, particularly in times of crisis. Truth be told, too much of the global population is not resilient, and far too many of us exist on the edge of a precipice. If nothing, the coronavirus pandemic has taught us that the global economy is dangerously fragile, and when it is disrupted, panic, anxiety, and anger ensue. When systems fall out of balance, as they have over the last three or four decades, significant human and financial resources must be deployed to restore the balance.

Communicate a message of compassion and reciprocity. We live in a world filled with damaged people and people who have been left behind. We also live in a world of environmental limits. We cannot continue to take from the planet without giving back, and we must not continue to neglect vulnerable people. You and I know this to be the case; now is the time to share the message widely and from a place of compassion.

Take justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in your grantmaking seriously. If your board and staff and those of your grantees are not ready for change, you need to let them know that the time for change is now. It is up to you to use your grantmaking to confront asymmetries of power. And it makes sense this should be so. We need the broadest spectrum of skills and talents if we are to develop solutions to the complex problems we face.

Direct your support to local and regional philanthropic channels. Let's be frank: community foundations and other local organizations know their social, cultural, economic, and political contexts better than you do. It's up to you, therefore, to build their capacity to do more of what they're doing. It’s an efficient and effective strategy that you need to invest in, if you aren’t already.

Native peoples have long known that land and water conservation is inseparable from food security and is the responsibility of each of us. I am also firm in my belief that preserving Native languages as vessels of traditional knowledge is a critical component of social and environmental resilience, not only in reaction to a crisis but as a human right. What has been happening in Native communities around the world for many years now is just one more example of the "canary in a coal mine." It's time to pay attention.

Against the backdrop of COVID-19, Earth Day 2020 is our chance to start anew. It's an honor for me personally to be a part of the environmental community during this challenging time. We are principled and moral people. We sometimes make mistakes, but we learn from those mistakes and move forward. We walk toward challenges, not away from them. We commit to do better because we want to make the world a more beautiful place.

Recently, standing beside the spring that waters my property, I understood that the water was speaking in a language I had known all along. Not a language of words, but of sound, a simple abstraction of the glory of the natural world, a world we must love and protect for generations to come.

Headshot_Jim EnoteJim Enote is a Zuni tribal member and CEO of the Colorado Plateau Foundation. For over forty years, he has tackled land and water conservation issues around the world and is committed to conserving and protecting his own and other Native cultures.  

Why Philanthropy Can't Forget About CBOs in a Public Health Crisis

April 21, 2020

Gathering_for_justice_march_kidsIt's become clear over the past few weeks that these are unprecedented times. And the fact that philanthropy has stepped up quickly to fill gaps and protect vulnerable populations — the homeless, farm workers, day laborers, people who are incarcerated — is testament to the increased diversity, in terms of both background and experience, inside our philanthropic institutions.

It shows, among other things, that the hundreds of foundation staff members across the country who once worked at community-based organizations (CBOs) before making the transition to philanthropy are being heard. That said, it's critical right now that philanthropy engage with CBOs, bringing us into planning conversations as thought partners who can help reframe who is considered "vulnerable" in an even more inclusive way.

We are still in the phase of this public health crisis in which "vulnerability" is framed in terms of who is getting sick and who is not. Such framing is necessary if we want to "flatten the curve" and prevent the exhaustion of our healthcare resources. But "sick or not sick" does not capture the full scope of the problems people are, or will be, facing. Because of the intimate, community-focused nature of the work we do, CBOs are uniquely positioned to help philanthropy as it thinks about and continues to provide resources to address the long-term impacts of the pandemic.

In our community of Stockton, California, CBOs have taken up the calls of community members and pushed for their concerns in a coordinated way. For instance, Justice League CA, a volunteer organization powered by The Gathering for Justice, advocated forcefully for the city to close its schools in response to the spread of COVID-19 but urged it to continue to provide free lunch and work plans to students and families who needed them. The Gathering also is one of the CBOs working with Mayor Michael Tubbs on Stockton Strong, a city-sponsored webpage that is constantly updated with information about mental health, housing, and food assistance resources, emergency funds, and other critical services. We've also led calls for San Joaquin County to release youth held in juvenile facilities for low-level offenses, as well as adults held in jails and prisons, in order to reduce density among the county's incarcerated population, and we continue to advocate for additional funding of reentry services.

We've always been intentional about making our work accessible to the communities we serve. But CBOs like ours urgently need philanthropy's consistent support as we work to meet communities' short- and long-term needs. Even as the number of COVID infections nationally rises, staying at home is not an option for many Americans — whether it's because their economic situation forces them to live in cramped quarters with others, they are victims of domestic violence, or they must navigate stressors such as drug abuse. Similarly, many of the outlets that young people take for granted like playing sports or music have been put on hold. This can lead to an increased risk of encounters with police as structured time turns into unstructured time — encounters that often are dangerous and even deadly for young black and brown people. Individuals who cycle through our jails, detention centers, halfway houses, foster care group homes, and other institutional environments — where frequent handwashing or keeping a safe distance from others is difficult if not impossible — also are more likely to come into contact with the virus.

Unfortunately, it's becoming clear that, as resources are prioritized for and shifted to address the public health emergency, CBOs aren't going to receive the same amount of funding they've come to rely on. Most CBOs operate on extremely lean budgets, stretching dollars and regularly "making miracles happen" as they work to meet needs in their communities. During the 2008 financial crisis, many CBOs went under, resulting in adverse consequences for low-income people, migrants and undocumented individuals and families, LGBTQIA+ young people, people formerly or currently incarcerated, people with disabilities, and other groups often struggling on the margins of society.

Now, as then, COVID-19 is forcing us to look at how we show up for each other. What does dignity look like when parents working two and often three jobs have to scramble to replace the child care and nutrition provided by local schools, or are forced to stand in line outside a food pantry as bags of desperately needed staples are passed through a door? What does community healing mean when a public health crisis leads to the mass closure of "mom-and-pop" businesses that millions rely on? What does "beloved community" and restorative justice look like as we all try to navigate a period of increased social and economic stress?

As the Federal Reserve and federal government move to support small businesses with lower interest rates and paycheck protection programs, it's essential that philanthropy step up to support CBOs struggling to keep their heads above water. At this critical moment in our history, we urge philanthropic organizations to think of us as not only as vital community resources but as thought partners who know what vulnerable populations want and need. We will do more with less if we have to, but our capacity to help is critical if marginalized communities are to survive this public health crisis. In the coming weeks and months, we need to be with at the table with philanthropy so that the strategies it crafts to help these communities survive are more comprehensive, holistic, and just.

Carmen Perez_Jasmine_Dellafosse_for_PhilanTopicCarmen Perez is president and CEO and Jasmine Dellafosse is senior regional organizer at The Gathering for Justice.

Are Foundations Equipped to Help Nonprofits Survive the Pandemic?

April 16, 2020

Inclusion and diversityWith close to 100,000 active foundations and collective annual giving of nearly $87 billion, America has the largest philanthropic sector in the world. While that pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars the federal government and Federal Reserve are pumping into the economy, it can be a lifeline to nonprofits, many of which have precious little cash to burn and are caught in the crossfire of overwhelming demand and an existential struggle for their own survival.

So, one answer to the question posed by the title of this piece is a resounding "yes." Foundations have a lot of what nonprofits need most right now, namely money. Candid research tells us that, even when faced with volatile markets, foundations, on the whole, step up during recessions and go beyond their required minimum payout rate of 5 percent. Indeed, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, foundations have been quick to throw out a lifeline. A tracking site created by Candid has already logged $6.7 billion in foundation grants globally and a rapidly growing list of coronavirus relief funds and requests for proposals.

The current public health emergency also is showing us that philanthropy — an impossibly diverse field of individualized private institutions — can learn from the past. More than a few foundations have notified nonprofits that their current grants, many of which were heavily conditioned by expected outcomes, budget restrictions, and theories of change, can be converted to general operating support. That page in the playbook was developed in the weeks following the 2004 South Asian tsunami, which immediately transformed small coastal nonprofits into first responders. At the time, a handful of foundations experimented by turning existing grants for sustainable fishing projects, ecotourism, and small business development into cash that could be used however the grantees saw fit. Those kinds of best practices have been codified by the excellent Center for Disaster Philanthropy and are available for all donors to adapt to their own purposes.

But while some foundations have learned to move money swiftly in times of need, many still are hampered by a critical talent gap when it comes to helping their nonprofit partners survive a crisis like the spread of Sars-CoV-2. In larger staffed foundations, the recommendations on how to spend grant budgets almost always originate with program officers. Recruited for their expertise in a given field, foundation program officers typically have training in the social sciences, business, or law. Some are of a more scholarly bent, others are activists at heart, but most have one thing in common: they have never actually had the experience of running a nonprofit organization.

I speak from my own experience, which includes several decades working in foundations. Everyone in those foundations was exceedingly smart, articulate, and had seen enough good and bad projects and organizations to give them valuable knowledge of the nonprofit world. But much like that possessed by consultants, our knowledge was more theoretical and our interventions more short-term and episodic. I remember a day at the Ford Foundation when I turned to one of my mentors and asked, "What do any of us really know about running an organization?" Our actual lived organizational experience was limited to that of an institution in which the amount of money available to spend might fluctuate a bit from year to year but in the end was always there, thanks to the endowment.

That all changed the day I started as president of Foundation Center, now Candid. It was October 1, 2008, just two weeks after Lehman Brothers collapsed and the bottom fell out of the global economy. Immediately, I was faced with the real-life challenges of meeting payroll, covering rent, selling products and services to a panicked customer base, and raising money in the most unfavorable climate imaginable. More than a decade later, I again find myself staring down a perfect storm — although this time it's a pandemic and a recession combined. Truth be told, in the 11-plus years since 2008 the pressure has never really let up. Balancing income and expenses is a juggling act that goes down to the wire every year, before starting all over again on January 1. And all that juggling is in service to a mission — even more so in an existential crisis like our present one. Running a nonprofit is an intensely real-time proposition; working as a program officer was not.

Groups like Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and the Center for Effective Philanthropy have studied how professionals with nonprofit experience make better program officers. There are some with that kind of background, but I would like to see more, particularly individuals who have been nonprofit executives. After years of laboring in the fundraising mines, many would jump at the opportunity to work in an endowed institution and be able to contribute to the development of effective, experienced-based strategies designed to help grantees survive a crisis. In the same way that foundations have learned to convert their restricted grants into general operating support in times of need, I hope that on the other side of this crisis foundations will enrich their in-house talent with nonprofit leaders who can help them better prepare for the next crisis.

One thing is sure. Shocks, whether natural disasters, pandemics, deep recessions, or any combination thereof, will continue to occur. And so long as foundations are ready with financial resources, best practices, and talent, the social sector will survive and thrive.

Headshot_brad_smithBradford K. Smith is the president of Candid. This post originally appeared on the Candid blog.

Corporations Ramp Up Support for COVID-19 Response Efforts (April 1-15, 2020)

April 15, 2020

COVID10_closeupAs COVID-19 spreads globally and in the United States, corporations and their foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. The "quick-hit" roundup below captures some of the corporate activity in response to COVID-19 over the last two weeks. (In many cases, larger gifts have been covered separately as part of PND's daily news feed.) Items are sorted in alpha order by company name.

For more coverage, check out PND's COVID-19 page and Candid's COVID-19 popup page.

The Alliance for Education has announced a donation from Amazon of eighty-two hundred laptops, valued at $2 million, so that all Seattle Public School students can participate in online learning during the coronavirus public health emergency. The donation will kickstart the Education Equity Fund, an initiative to provide underserved students with access to needed technology, technical support, and additional learning resources.

As part of its efforts to assist communities during the public health emergency, the Allstate Foundation has pledged $5 million in support of domestic violence victims — who are at greater risk when sheltering in place with their abusers — as well as youth in need and first responders. The commitment includes $2 million to be allocated in communities where Allstate has large numbers of employees (the greater Chicago area and Illinois; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas; and Phoenix, Arizona); $1 million in support of first responders; $500,000 to the National Network to End Domestic Violence; $1.4 million to match employee donations on a one-to-one basis; and support for the National Runaway Safeline and Inner Explorer's free mindfulness program.

Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance and the American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation have announced commitments totaling more than $4 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts. Additional support from the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation is expected to push the total to more than $6.8 million. The funding includes $50,000 to the United Way of Dane County/Boys and Girls Club COVID Support Fund, a 2:1 match of employee donations to relief efforts, and a total of $275,000 to COVID-19 relief funds in communities where the American Family Insurance group has offices, including Boston, Denver, Green Bay, Jacksonville (Florida), Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Phoenix, St. Joseph (Missouri), and St. Louis.

AppleInsider reports that the software and consumer electronics giant will donate $10 million to the One World: Together at Home benefit, a COVID-19 fundraiser organized by Global Citizen and the World Health Organization in collaboration with Lady Gaga. The event will benefit WHO's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

Audible has committed $1 million to launch a free daily meal delivery service for families in need and to keep restaurant workers employed in Newark, New Jersey, where the company is headquartered. In collaboration with José Andrés's World Central Kitchen and chef Marcus Samuelsson, Newark Working Kitchens will fund a hundred thousand meals at $10 per meal, paid directly to participating restaurants; the initiative also will include a mentorship program with Newark Venture Partners and Invest Newark to provide restaurant owners and other small businesses free guidance on how to access federal, state, and local COVID-19 relief funding. The company also announced that the 2020 Williamstown Theatre Festival summer season will be produced on the Audible Theater platform, enabling the regional theater company to go ahead with its summer season in a new format, provide continued work for the artists involved, and produce a body of work that will be made available globally to Audible listeners.

BBVA USA has announced commitments totaling more than $3.7 million in support of efforts to address the impacts of COVID-19, including $1 million in rapid response grants to select grantees of the BBVA Foundation working to meet basic needs and support small businesses across the bank's footprint. In addition, the company will award a total of $2 million to food banks and community development financial institutions supporting low-to-moderate income communities impacted by the public health crisis and is working to procure essential materials and public health support worth $500,000 for nonprofit partners, including gloves, hand sanitizer, and N95 masks.

Private equity and asset management firm Blackstone has announced commitments totaling $15 million in support of coronavirus relief efforts in New York State, including $10 million to the New York State COVID-19 First Responders Fund. The remaining $5 million will support organizations working to meet food and other basic needs of New Yorkers, including City Harvest, World Central Kitchen, Great Performances, and Slice Out Hunger.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has announced commitments totaling $2 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts, including $250,000 to six relief funds across the state and a reallocation of more than $1.75 million in community investments and strategic sponsorships to expedite unrestricted cash awards to help nonprofits meet operational challenges.

The Burns & McDonnell Foundation has announced a $1.5 million gift to the United Way COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund and said it will match individual employee-owner donations to the fund.

In Portland, Oregon, Cambia Health Solutions and the Cambia Health Foundation have announced new investments totaling $500,000 in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts. Grants include $50,000 to the Oregon Food Bank; up to $100,000 to match employee donations to select food banks; $50,000 to address the immediate needs of healthcare and support-service providers on the front lines of the pandemic; and donations totaling $300,000 to COVID-19 emergency relief funds hosted by community foundations and organizations in Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, including the Seattle Foundation, the Idaho Community Foundation, United Way of Salt Lake, and Philanthropy Northwest.

Property and casualty insurer Chubb has announced a $10 million commitment through the Chubb Charitable Foundation in support of global COVID-19 relief efforts, with a focus on financially vulnerable populations and areas facing acute need.

Dunkin' Donuts has awarded $1.25 million in emergency grants through the Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation to community-based health and hunger-relief organizations across the United States providing critical services to families in need, including those in shelters. The foundation also is funding Dunkin' product deliveries to medical staff in hospitals and at emergency sites.

Estée Lauder has announced that its MAC Cosmetics brand's VIVA GLAM Fund will distribute $10 million to two hundred and fifty organizations around the world that are working to meet the critical needs of and provide services to people at risk as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The First Horizon Foundation in Memphis has announced commitments totaling $2.5 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts across First Horizon Bank's footprint. The funding will be distributed to nonprofits that provide food, educational, and emergency assistance relief in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Chicago-based First Midwest Bank has announced grants totaling $2.5 million to nonprofits mobilizing emergency responses to the spread of COVID-19. Awarded through the First Midwest Charitable Foundation, the funds include $750,000 to be distributed to United Way chapters across the bank's markets and $1.75 million in general funds to nonprofits in the communities the bank serves, including organizations that support small businesses and work with individuals and families to secure affordable housing and achieve financial sustainability.

Pittsburgh-based health insurer Highmark has announced grants totaling $2 million to nonprofits helping people in need across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Delaware during the coronavirus emergency. Grants include $575,000 to food banks, $525,000 to human service agencies through COVID-19 relief funds, $700,000 to safety-net providers through the Highmark Foundation, and $200,000 for relief efforts in Delaware.

Kia Motors America has announced donations totaling $1 million to nonprofits working to provide homeless youth across the United States with shelter and care. Recipients include Covenant House, StandUp for Kids, and Family Promise.

KPMG U.S.and the KPMG U.S. Foundation have announced commitments totaling $2 million in support of nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. Pledges include $1 million from the foundation and $500,000 from the firm in support of the KPMG Disaster Relief Fund COVID-19 campaign; $400,000 in KPMG U.S. Foundation Community Impact Grants to charities supported by employees; and $130,000 in COVID-19 Relief Grants to a range of national nonprofit partners.

Marriott International has announced a commitment to provide hotel stays worth $10 million to healthcare professionals leading the fight against COVID-19 in the United States. In collaboration with the American College of Emergency Physicians and Emergency Nurses Association, the Rooms for Responders program will provide free rooms in several areas that have been hard hit, including New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Newark, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C.

Mars, Inc. has pledged $20 million for COVID-19 relief efforts globally and in the communities where it operates. The commitment includes initial donations of $5 million to CARE in support of its work with vulnerable populations in countries least prepared for an outbreak of the virus; $2 million to the United Nations World Food Programme for logistical support of emergency deliveries of food and lifesaving equipment to hospitals in COVID-impacted areas; and $1 million to the Humane Society International in support of its efforts to rescue pets whose owners are ill or no longer able to care for them. The remaining $12 million in cash and in-kind donations will include contributions from the Mars Wrigley, Banfield, Pedigree, and Tasty Bite foundations.

As SARS-CoV-2 spreads globally, the Merck Foundation has announced a $3 million commitment through Merck for Mothers, the company's global initiative focused on preventing maternal deaths, to help health systems better meet the needs of pregnant women before, during, and following delivery. The funding will support efforts in the United States and other countries impacted by the virus; proposals will be considered on an invitation-only basis.

Morgan Stanley has announced a $250,000 grant to the Child Mind Institute as part of a $10 million commitment for coronavirus relief efforts. The grant will support the institute's efforts to provide digital mental health resources for children, adolescents, and young adults during the global health crisis — including Facebook Live video chats with expert clinicians, remote evaluations and telemedicine sessions, phone consultations for follow up, and daily parenting tips via email, with a focus on vulnerable communities.

Newmont Corporation has announced the launch of a $20 million fund aimed at helping local governments, medical institutions, charities, and NGOs address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Newmont Global Community Support Fund will direct funding to the greatest needs, with a focus on employee and community health, food security, and long-term local economic resilience.

Novartis and the Novartis US Foundation have established a US COVID-19 Community Response Fund to provide cash and in-kind donations totaling $5 million for immediate response and recovery efforts. Initial grants include $250,000 to the Commons Project for development of COVIDcheck, a free public digital health service, and grants of $125,000 each to Americares and Direct Relief in support of safety-net clinics. The foundation also will award grants in support of efforts to bolster local and national healthcare infrastructure, enhance new community health programs specific to the COVID-19 response, and establish digital platforms for related data collection, remote healthcare delivery, and dissemination of public health information.

NRG Energy in Princeton, New Jersey, has announced $2 million in cash and in-kind contributions, including donations of personal protective equipment, protective apparel, and air-purifying respirators for healthcare workers and first responders; contributions to community and small business relief funds in areas where the company operates; and financial support for public teachers' DonorsChoose.org fundraising campaigns.

Identity security provider Okta has announced a three-year, $10 million initiative to help nonprofits move their operations to the cloud during the COVID-19 public health emergency, reach beneficiaries and stakeholders digitally at scale, protect critical data and identities, and strengthen collaborations in support of nonprofit tech. The company also will advocate for new ways to support nonprofits with technology. Grant recipients include ;NetHope, NTEN, and TechSoup.

The Open COVID Pledge, an international coalition of scientists and lawyers calling on organizations to make their intellectual property available for free as a way to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, has announced that Intel and Mozilla have joined a number of other pledge signatories, including Creative Commons, the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital, and programs at Stanford and other universities.

PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation, in partnership with No Kid Hungry, have announced the launch of Give Meals, Give Hope, a fundraising campaign aimed at ensuring that children who rely on school lunch programs have access to meals while schools are closed. As part of PepsiCo's $45 million commitment in support of COVID-19 response efforts, the company will match $1 million in donations made at NoKidHungry.org/PepsiCoGives through the end of April.

The Rite Aid Foundation has announced a $5 million commitment in support of efforts to assist healthcare providers and first responders as well as children, families, employees, and communities impacted by COVID-19. The foundation awarded $1.5 million to organizations working to address the needs of frontline workers, $1.5 million to regional emergency response funds in COVID-19 hotspots, $1 million to Feeding America and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and $1 million to the Rite Aid Foundation Associate Relief Fund.

Sony has announced the launch of a $100 million Sony Global Relief Fund for COVID-19 in support of communities around the world impacted by the spread of the coronavirus. The relief effort will focus on three main areas: assistance for those engaged in frontline medical and first-responder efforts to fight the virus; technology to help children and educators who are connecting remotely; and support for members of the creative community in the entertainment industry. The company also committed a total of $10 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, Médecins Sans Frontières, UNICEF, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Starbucks Foundation has announced commitments totaling more than $3 million in support of global COVID-19 response efforts. Contributions include $1 million to the United Nations Foundation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund; $1 million to Give2Asia to fund efforts in China to bolster training for frontline medical workers and capacity building for grassroots organizations; $250,000 to nonprofits assisting unsheltered and vulnerable families in Seattle and another $250,000 for efforts in New York City; $250,000 to United Way Worldwide's COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund; and contributions to United Way and hospital foundations in Canada.

And with the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic as a national emergency, Foundation Source notes that corporate foundations can now provide disaster relief to their employees. While self-dealing regulations typically prohibit corporate foundations from making grants directly to employees, they are permitted to do so without pre-approval from the Internal Revenue Service in the case of a "qualified" disaster (i.e., one that is federally declared by the president). Provided all IRS requirements are met, Foundation Source further notes that employee disaster relief assistance should not result in taxable compensation to employees and will be counted as a charitable distribution toward the foundation's 5 percent payout requirement.

Have an announcement you'd like to share with the PND community? Drop us a note at matt.sinclair@candid.org or kyoko.uchida@candid.org.


"Amazon Donates 8,200 Laptops to Seattle Public School Elementary Families, Helping to Close the 'Continuous Learning' Gap for All Students Amid Covid-19 Pandemic." Alliance for Education Press Release 04/06/2020.

"The Allstate Foundation Contributes $5 Million to Help Domestic Violence Victims, Youth in Need and First Responders." Allstate Foundation Press Release 04/07/2020.

"American Family Insurance, Foundations Pledge Support to COVID-19 Relief." American Family Insurance Press Release 04/02/2020.

"Audible Launches Newark Working Kitchens to Provide Free Meals." Audible Press Release 04/10/2020.

"Blackstone Contributes $15 Million to COVID-19 Relief Efforts in New York." Blackstone Press Release 04/06/2020.

"BBVA USA Commits More Than $3.7 Million in Community Support, Offers Special Employee Benefits Amid COVID-19." BBVA USA Press Release 04/06/2020.

"Blue Cross Blue Shield Of Massachusetts Commits $2M to COVID-19 Community Relief." Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Press Release 04/06/2020.

"Burns & McDonnell Bolsters Support of Communities, Clients and Employee-Owners During Coronavirus Pandemic." Burns & McDonnell Press Release 04/08/2020.

"Cambia and Cambia Health Foundation Commit to Combat the Impact of COVID-19 on Local Communities." Cambia Health Solutions Press Release 04/02/2020.

"Chubb Commits $10 Million to Pandemic Relief Efforts Globally; Company Pledges No COVID-19 Layoffs." Chubb Press Release 04/05/2020.

"Dunkin's Joy in Childhood Foundation Grants $1.25 Million to Support Community-Based Health and Hunger Relief Organizations." Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation Press Release 04/09/2020.

"The Estée Lauder Companies Contributes to Global COVID-19 Relief Support." Estée Lauder Press Release 04/02/2020.

"First Horizon Foundation Donates $2.5 Million to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts Throughout Its Communities." First Horizon Foundation Press Release 04/01/2020.

"First Midwest Commits $2.5 Million in Community Support in Response to Covid-19." First Midwest Bank Press Release 04/01/2020.

"Kia Motors Donates $1 Million to Aid Homeless Youth During the Covid-19 Pandemic." Kia Motors Press Release 04/09/2020.

"KPMG U.S. and KPMG U.S. Foundation Pledge Over $2 Million to Nonprofits in Response to COVID-19." KPMG Press Release 04/09/2020.

"An Update from our CEO." Marriott International Press Release 04/09/2020.

"Mars Commits $20M to Communities in COVID-19 Response." Mars, Inc. Press Release 04/06/2020.

"Merck Announces $3M Commitment to Address Critical Maternal Health Needs During COVID-19 Pandemic." Merck Press Release 04/09/2020.

"Morgan Stanley Announces Grant to the Child Mind Institute to Support Children’s Mental Health During the COVID-19 Crisis." Morgan Stanley Press Release 04/06/2020.

"Newmont Establishes $20 Million Community Support Fund." Newmont Corporation Press Release 04/08/2020.

"Novartis and the Novartis US Foundation Establish USD 5 Million US COVID-19 Community Response Fund." Novartis Press Release 04/03/2020.

"NRG Energy, Inc. Pledges $2 Million to COVID-19 Relief Efforts." NRG Energy Press Release 04/01/2020.

Nonprofits Should Be as Powerful as Their Missions: Our $10 Million Commitment." Okta Press Release 04/02/2020.

Anthony Spadafora. "Intel, Mozilla Join Initiative to Make IP Available to Coronavirus Efforts." Techradar 04/09/2020.

"PepsiCo Pledges $1 Million to No Kid Hungry and Encourages People to #GiveMealsGiveHope in a Collective Effort to Fight Child Food Insecurity Amid COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond." PepsiCo Press Release 04/13/2020.

"The Rite Aid Foundation Donates $5MM to Address COVID-19 Pandemic." Rite Aid Foundation Press Release 04/07/2020.

"Sony Establishes $100 Million COVID-19 Global Relief Fund." Sony Press Release 04/02/2020.

"The Starbucks Foundation Donates More Than $3M to Global COVID-19 Relief Efforts." Starbucks Foundation Press Release 04/01/2020.

"National Emergency Declaration Concerning COVID-19 Enables Corporate Foundations to Assist Employees." Foundation Source 04/02/2020.

Philanthropy's Moment: Advocating for and Funding What's Essential

April 14, 2020

5710857_origAs history has shown, crises can present moments of opportunity for bold action while also creating new perspectives and priorities. This is one of those moments for philanthropy.

Right now, what matters most is to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are not disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. If we fail to do that, we run the risk of overwhelming our health systems and putting additional pressure on frontline responders, direct service providers, and other critical organizations and systems.

That is why we, as a nation, need to expand the definition of who is "essential" to include nonprofit service providers — and why philanthropy needs to step up and take action, with both its dollars and influence, immediately. Countless lives, and our future, are at stake.

What is essential?

The answer to that question is food, shelter, and staying safe — basic needs most of us take for granted. These are now the first line of defense against the virus. And while that's true for everyone, it's especially true for the most vulnerable in society, who were already facing daily challenges before the emergence of COVID-19. With current shelter-in-place policies, these challenges could quickly become devastating outcomes.

Right now in Massachusetts, where I am sheltering in place, nonprofit service providers large and small are scrambling to figure out how they can protect our state's most vulnerable people and populations. Many of them — such as food banks and homeless shelters — are trying to address supply chain and distribution challenges. Others are working to solve access problems.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

For years, Boston Cares — the largest volunteer agency in New England — has been filling more than twenty-five thousand volunteer spots annually in support of nonprofit agencies in the greater Boston area. As the coronavirus crisis began to unfold, the organization changed its programming to create new opportunities for volunteering and to train volunteers virtually.

Next, the organization partnered with Boston Public Schools — a district in which 78 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches — to implement a citywide distribution of free breakfast and lunch for fifty-four thousand students at risk of going hungry while schools in the district are closed. It's essential that this partnership continue for as long as it takes for the crisis to play out.

The work of the Justice Resource Institute also is essential. JRI provides foster care to about five hundred kids on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. But it also serves another twenty thousand families by keeping the kids in those homes safe. These days, COVID-19 has forced the suspension of home visits, and so the organization has had to shift to telephone appointments, which makes it much more difficult to assess the risks kids might face in a home.

Many of these kids suffer from mental health problems and are living in potentially risky environments. Without JRI's continued support, things might happen to these kids that normally would have been prevented. What if one of these kids gets hurt or is subjected to violence? If that child makes it to a hospital, what will caregivers there do? What are they able to do? Hospitals are already functioning at near capacity, and emergency rooms are finding it necessary to implement triage protocols that end up with some people being turned away. The last thing our hospitals need is an influx of kids who aren't suffering from COVID-19 but instead are the collateral damage of a broken social services system.

The solutions to these and countless other COVID-related impacts require money — and this is not a time for essential  nonprofit service providers to be worrying about money. That's where philanthropy comes in. I urge all foundations to communicate to their grantees that you are committed to maintaining your funding for an extended period of time and will even tap your endowments to provide support for frontline responders and direct service providers.

Philanthropy also should use whatever influence it has with state and municipal governments to ensure that contract funding continues to flow.

In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker issued an executive order on March 30 urging the state's Department of Health and Human Services to "extend financial relief," including "supplemental payments," to all nonprofit health and human service providers in the state and to pay out state monies to these organizations "that reflect the modified ways services are being delivered." Sure, it's a lot of legalese, but the bottom line could not be clearer: in this time of "extraordinary demand" and reduced revenues, "providers that are necessary to keep vulnerable individuals safe in their homes or residences and out of more acute settings like hospitals" deserve our support.

The coronavirus pandemic has revealed in stark ways what is truly essential. As we go through this crisis together, ideas about need and what is important are sure to change. Undoubtedly, we'll also begin to realize that the most vulnerable in society have needs beyond food and shelter — that go beyond ensuring mere survival and, instead, speak to what people who are desperate to build lives of security and fulfillment require.

In this anxious and uncertain time, we have an opportunity, as a society, to establish some new priorities. Although it might not always be obvious, we have the collective imagination and wherewithal to create genuine progress for people across the United States. A newly committed and energized philanthropy is crucial to that future.

Headshot_Andrew WolkAndrew Wolk is the CEO of Root Cause, a Boston-based nonprofit consulting firm, and produces the blog and podcast Finding Common Purpose.

Our Unsung First Responders

April 13, 2020

Strengthening-Human-Services-1024x1024Neighborhood nonprofit organizations serve as both safety nets and trampolines for millions of New Yorkers. They help low-income youth graduate from high school and go on to college, support newly-arrived immigrant families trying to adjust to life in a not-always welcoming country, and fire the imaginations of New Yorkers through the arts and culture, among other things.

Sadly, low-income residents of the city often struggle with other problems — including insufficient (or nonexistent) health care, persistent and structural racism and discrimination, unemployment, and unsafe, substandard housing — that put them at higher risk for infection.

Since the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., nonprofits have been on the front lines of the epidemic, their staff classified as "essential" workers. They run our senior centers, settlement houses, food banks, family shelters, domestic violence shelters, and supportive housing developments. The individuals who do this work do not make a lot of money. Many have no choice but to use mass transit to get to and from their jobs, putting their health and that of their families at risk.

The emergence and spread of the virus in the United States coincides with the spring special events season, when many nonprofits raise a significant percentage of their unrestricted revenues through walkathons, bike-a-thons, and other large gatherings. As straightened as their circumstances may be, these nonprofits are being called on to do more with less — in many cases, much more with a lot less. Which is why it's critically important that we all do our best over the coming weeks and months to support the efforts of these essential workers and organizations as they do their best to help us through this dark time and create a more equitable future for all New Yorkers.

Patricia_Swann_Michael_Seltzer_for_PhilanTopicPatricia Swann is a senior program officer at the New York Community Trust, where she has been responsible for over $118 million in grants in support of affordable housing, community development, civic engagement, and nonprofit capacity building projects over the past twenty years. Michael Seltzer is a distinguished lecturer at Baruch College's Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at the City University of New York and director of the New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows program.

Foundations Step Up Funding for COVID-19 Response Efforts (April 1-11, 2020)

April 11, 2020

COVID19As COVID-19 spreads globally and in the United States, private foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the immediate needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. The "quick-hit" roundup below captures some of the foundation activity in response to COVID-19 over the last two weeks. Items are sorted in alpha order, by state and, within states, by foundation name.

For more coverage, check out PND's COVID-19 page and Candid's COVID-19 popup page.


Akonadi Foundation, Oakland, CA | $1 Million

The Akonadi Foundation has announced it will allocate $1 million from its endowment to make grants to people-of-color-led organizations and initiatives in Oakland responding to communities impacted by COVID-19. With the public health crisis highlighting racialized inequities nationwide, the foundation has re-launched its So Love Can Win Fund — originally launched in 2016 with the aim of seeding a vision of a safe, healed, and racially just Oakland — to provide one-time rapid response grants of up to $10,000 to meet emerging community demands and/or help organizations cover their revenue losses.

Eisner Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $500,000

The Eisner Foundation has committed $500,000 to create a Rapid Response grant program that will award grants to nonprofits helping older adults combat social isolation in Los Angeles County. One-year grants ranging from $5,000 to 50,000 will support technological or logistical solutions that enable organizations to adapt quickly now and have better infrastructure in place for their long-term work. Priority will be given to intergenerational solutions as well as current or recent grantees.

Heising-Simons Foundation, Los Altos, CA | $2 Million

The University of California, San Francisco has announced a $2 million grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation to establish a COVID Response Initiative at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (ZSFG), a public hospital operated by the San Francisco Department of Public Health and a UCSF partner. The grant will enable physicians and trainees to better triage and treat COVID-19 patients who require hospitalization and create appropriate care plans for individuals who do not. The grant also will support COVID-19 screening and on-site testing at ZSFG and help provide personal protective equipment for nurses, respiratory technicians, and physicians.

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Agoura Hills, CA | $10 Million

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has announced grants totaling $10 million in support of efforts to protect the homeless population in Los Angeles from COVID-19 and help African countries prepare for an outbreak. Grants include $2.25 million to Brilliant Corners in support of a partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services; $500,000 to the California Community Foundation; $2.25 million to United Way of Greater Los Angeles; $500,000 to Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO); $3 million to the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa; and $1.5 million to UNICEF.

James Irvine Foundation, San Francisco, CA| $22 Million

The James Irvine Foundation has announced commitments totaling $22 million aimed at helping grantees weather the economic storm caused by mandatory lockdowns related to the spread of COVID-19. As part of its Recession Resilience Project, the foundation will provide $20 million in immediate emergency funding to grantees of the foundation's Better Careers, Fair Work, and Priority Regions initiatives working to protect and advance the prospects of low-wage workers, and approximately $2 million to help other grassroots organizations in California weather the public health emergency. The foundation also plans to relax and/or renegotiate restrictions on current grants; reduce restrictions on the use of new grants; postpone or eliminate other requests it makes of grantees, including site visits and progress reports; and continue its efforts to listen to and work with its grantees and the communities they serve.

Continue reading »

Nonprofits and COVID-19: No Money – No Mission

April 09, 2020

Foodbank_feeding_americaWith more than 12.5 million employees and over 1.3 million organizations, the nonprofit sector is the third largest private-sector employer in the United States, after retail and manufacturing. Nonprofits touch the lives of one in five Americans, helping to feed, heal, shelter, educate, nurture, and inspire them. 

Over the last month or so, however, COVID-19 has laid bare the reality of the nonprofit mantra "No Money – No Mission." In our current volatile environment, some nonprofits will thrive, some will be forced to close, and some — with the help of smart, speedy planning — will survive.  

Nonprofits on the front lines of the coronavirus response, including nonprofit hospitals, social service providers, and food banks, need immediate funds to scale their operations. The good news is that many of these nonprofits will come out of the crisis stronger than ever. 

Other nonprofits are at real risk. Smaller, local nonprofits that have meager or nonexistent reserves are already feeling the strain — especially museums, performing arts groups, botanical gardens, and other cultural organizations that depend on ticket sales and walk-in donations for revenue. Meanwhile, nonprofits that rely on galas, special dinners, and events such as walkathons, bikeathons, "mudfests," and other large-scale gatherings are in trouble. 

Even before the emergence and spread of COVID-19, the situation for most nonprofits was fairly dire. In 2019, the vast majority (92 percent) of nonprofits in the U.S. had revenues of less than $1 million, while approximately half (50 percent) had operating reserves of less than a month. These small and often local nonprofits are especially vulnerable to the lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders that have been imposed by governors and mayors across the country — and the deep recession  likely headed our way.

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A Moment of Truth for Underserved Communities — and Us

April 07, 2020

Ahrcmrc CloudOver the coming weeks and months, COVID-19 is likely to affect everybody, everywhere, in some way or another. Some of those people will have access to well-resourced health systems and advanced health care. Most won't.

Around the world — and here in the United States — there are people in underserved communities who are feeling scared and alone — people who do not have access to quality education, health care, and, in many cases, even food. In this time of crisis, it's imperative we provide these communities and people with relevant, accurate, and up-to-date information about the coronavirus. They need the kind of information that so many of us have already gotten and take for granted: What are the symptoms of COVID-19? What should one do if s/he has symptoms? Who is at highest risk of infection? And how can you prevent the virus from spreading?

Quality, culturally sensitive education is critical if we hope to prevent the virus from spreading out of control, reduce the burden on our healthcare systems, and show our solidarity with those in need.

But we need to act now.

For the last several weeks, Curamericas Global and our volunteers have been on the phones alongside staff of the Guatemalan consulate in Raleigh, North Carolina, reaching out to the fifteen thousand families across the Carolinas in need of extra support during this difficult time. Many of these families do not speak English. Our volunteers are providing evidence-based information about the virus and serving as an ally and friend to those who may not know what to do if they get sick. It's something we learned firsthand through our work in Liberia during the 2014 Ebola outbreak there: prevention is the most important line of defense in keeping a bad situation from getting worse.

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Corporations Ramp Up Support for COVID-19 Response Efforts (March 16-31, 2020)

April 05, 2020

COVID-19As COVID-19 spreads globally and in the United States, corporations and their foundations are stepping up with funding to meet the needs of individuals and vulnerable populations impacted by the virus. The "quick-hit" roundup below captures some of the corporate activity in response to COVID-19 over the last two weeks. (In many cases, larger gifts have been covered separately as part of PND's daily news feed.) Items are sorted in alpha order by company name. 

For more coverage, check out PND's COVID-19 page and Candid's COVID-19 popup page.

The AmerisourceBergen Foundation in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, has announced a $1 million commitment in support of communities, individuals, and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. Grant recipients include Direct Relief ($250,000), AmeriCares ($250,000), and Healthcare Ready ($150,000). The foundation also announced that it will provide a 2:1 match for employee donations to those organizations as well as the AmerisourceBergen Associate Assistance Fund.

Amgen and the Amgen Foundation have announced an initial commitment of up to $12.5 million in support of U.S. and global relief efforts to address critical needs in communities affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The funds will be used to support emergency response efforts in communities where Amgen operates, patient-focused organizations that are mounting their own response efforts, and international relief efforts led by Direct Relief and International Medical Corps; in addition, the Amgen Foundation will match donations by Amgen employees for relief efforts.

AT&T has launched a $10 million Distance Learning and Family Connections Fund with a $1 million grant to Khan Academy in support of the organization's efforts to expand existing online learning resources and develop new resources specifically designed to address school closures. The fund also will provide resources in support of efforts to maintain meaningful connections for those isolated from family and friends.

Sustainable energy company AVANGRID and the Avangrid Foundation in Orange, Connecticut, have announced commitments totaling $2 million in support of nonprofits working to address the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities in the company's service area. To that end, the company will provide $1 million for emergency needs, while the foundation will award $1 million in emergency response funding to its partners nationwide.

Bacardi Limited — in collaboration with Another Round, Another Rally, the James Beard Foundation, and the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation — has launched a $3 million initiative to provide bars and bartenders impacted by COVID-19-related shutdowns.

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5 Questions for...Naveen Rao, Senior Vice President, Health Initiative, Rockefeller Foundation

April 03, 2020

After leading Merck for Mothers, a ten-year, $500 million effort launched by pharmaceutical giant Merck aimed at reducing maternal mortality rates around the world, Dr. Naveen Rao joined the Rockefeller Foundation in 2018 as senior vice president of the Health initiative. Today, he leads a team working to advance the foundation's Precision Public Health initiative, which is focused on empowering community health workers with actionable data-driven insights they can use to improve health outcomes in their communities. Launched in September 2019, the initiative builds on the foundation's past efforts to ensure that communities everywhere receive the right care at the right time.

Philanthropy News Digest spoke with Rao about how the novel coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the digital divide in the public health sphere and how philanthropy can help address the immediate impacts of COVID-19 and build a healthier global community going forward.

Heasdhot_Naveen RaoPhilanthropy News Digest: Should we have seen this pandemic coming? Why weren’t we better prepared?

Naveen Rao: Absolutely, yes. Given increasing urbanization around the world, the way we all travel so much more, how much closer we're living to nature — yes, we absolutely should have seen this pandemic coming.

Why weren't we better prepared? I believe it's related to the trend toward nationalization and siloed thinking. When it comes to public health, we tend to vacillate between neglect and panic. In peace time, when things are quiet, our public health systems are mostly neglected. Funding is withdrawn. We tend to underplay their importance. And then when a threat emerges, we hit the panic button, like we're doing now, and wring our hands and say, "Why weren't we better prepared?"

The fact that we're not better prepared speaks to that kind of siloed thinking and the degree to which we've been supporting, or not supporting, our public health systems, especially in terms of data and data science, which have empowered so many industries around us and changed life as we know it in profound ways. But when it comes to public health and our public health system, we still have the system we had a hundred years ago.

PND: Have we learned any lessons from the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-20? And what lessons from that pandemic did we forget?

NR: Whether it's the Spanish flu or COVID-19, viruses do what they are meant to do, which is try to replicate themselves. That hasn't changed, and the lessons we've learned haven't changed, either. A hundred years on, we're still dealing with COVID-19 the same way we dealt with the Spanish flu. We're dealing with a twenty-first century problem with a twentieth-century mindset.

The Spanish flu took a while to really kick in because the world wasn't as interconnected in 1918 as it is today. But if COVID has been exacerbated by our connectedness and general population density and international travel, we still have limited data on who has been infected.

Large-scale testing would enable us to determine who is infected but not yet showing symptoms, isolate and monitor them over time so they could be treated if they started getting worse, rather than waiting for people to feel sick before they get tested. Without this data we don't really know who to isolate or quarantine and therefore can't control COVID's spread.

For the moment, we're using a very blunt instrument called "social distancing." It's effective and we should continue this, but we need more than that. As I said, we were not prepared, we forgot some of the lessons of the past, and now we're wondering how that happened. But the path forward is pretty clear: all of us need to pay attention, a lot more attention, to public health.

Continue reading »

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."

    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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