522 posts categorized "Nonprofits"

Leading in solidarity to reshape the nonprofit ecosystem

July 01, 2020

SolidarityWe are five women of color leading five organizations deeply embedded in the nonprofit ecosystem of Detroit and southeast Michigan. We have five missions, five work styles, and five voices. With mutual intentions and hearts, we have decided to work as a collective that honors the history and resiliency of Black and Indigenous people and communities of color. Together, our work offers nonprofits the critical support needed to advance their missions. Today, we stand in recognition of the privilege and responsibility we have to speak as leaders of nonprofit support organizations.

We embrace the challenge and opportunity presented by this unique moment. Here in southeast Michigan, as elsewhere, the Black community has suffered disproportionately from the COVID-19 pandemic. And we have borne witness to brutal injustices at the hands of police. It has been tough. Some have responded to the moment by issuing statements of solidarity with the Black people of America. Individuals and organizations across the nation are reckoning with their experience of racism and anti-Blackness. But what does solidarity mean, especially in a moment like this? Our humanity demands we recognize ourselves as part of a larger whole, and the nature of our work in the nonprofit sector demands we recognize solidarity as an ongoing practice and process.

As human beings, as organizational leaders, and as stakeholders in the nonprofit ecosystem, we are tired of the neverending effort needed to beat back the stereotype that nonprofits are not efficient or able to survive without constant handouts. Some of our community-based organizations have been serving residents of southeastern Michigan for more than seventy years! (We see you, Russell Woods-Sullivan Area Association.) In this moment, we see an opportunity to rise up, to reimagine our work, and to cultivate a more just and beautiful world in transformative solidarity with others.

Our work together began with a look back at the history of and policies that have shaped the nonprofit sector. The nonprofit universe contains complexities with which all of us need to grapple. Events of the past few months did not create racial and gendered inequities in philanthropic funding. Nor did they shape the failed policies and misplaced public funding priorities that necessitated the creation of nonprofits in the first place. The pandemic and the brutal killings over the last few months of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and George Floyd have created a fierce urgency, within us and others, around the need to address the structural inequities that pervade so many of our systems.

Solutions to the challenges our communities face must come from those closest to the issues. And solidarity begins when we recognize that missions, needs, and fate of community-based nonprofits are interconnected. Such a recognition changes our work as nonprofit support providers. In the short term, we’re working together more than ever to address acute needs created by the pandemic; over the longer term we’re committed to addressing chronic needs at the systems level and leveraging our understanding of power dynamics in the sector to shape solutions that are inclusive, sustainable, and grounded in community-based structures and knowledge that already exist.

The most challenging aspect of solidarity is the revolution that takes place in our thoughts and actions when it is embraced. Our leadership practice in this moment disabuses the notion that leadership is the responsibility of a single, heroic figure. The five of us have learned to share leadership, and our work together has challenged us to interrogate the conventional wisdom around capacity building, fund development, data analysis and evaluation, and other nonprofit practices. It also has led us to acknowledge that self-care and the overall well-being of our organizations and staff require tending and attention, even though the dominant structures and culture in which we operate often contest and frustrate that process.

Support is synonymous with "holding up" or "bearing." It's a word we use to describe our function as leaders and organizations in a nonprofit ecosystem. Solidarity has brought us together to make all our internal structures and processes stronger. That scaffolding includes a growing trust in each other and the journey we've embarked on to reimagine leadership. As we continue to push ourselves to grow, we do so with the recognition that our Black and Brown sisters and brothers in nonprofits need more voices like ours to stand up and join with like-minded others to achieve the glorious futures we imagine for our communities.

Allandra Bulger is executive director at Co.act Detroit. Madhavi Reddy is executive director at Community Development Advocates of Detroit. Shamyle Dobbs is CEO at Michigan Community Resources. Yodit Mesfin Johnson is CEO at Nonprofit Enterprise at Work. And Donna Murray-Brown is CEO at the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

Young Americans, racial equity, and the pandemic

June 29, 2020

2020-06-07T082928Z_1842925027_MT1AFL127122807_RTRMADP3_BLM_RALLY_IN_RESPONSE_TO_DEATH_OF_GEORGE-FLOYDRecent events have galvanized tens of thousands of young Americans of all races into becoming active and vocal supporters of Black Lives Matter — a vigorous, positive, can’t-be-ignored movement rooted in the efforts of countless others who have worked hard over decades to address and eliminate racial inequality in American society. The fact that the protests erupted in the midst of a public health crisis that required people to physically distance themselves from others has merely served to reinforce the shared experience of the protestors and made many feel as if they are part of an unstoppable global movement. Most young Americans (ages 18-30) now believe real change is at hand and inevitable.

The research initiative I lead under the Cause and Social Influence banner has been tracking the actions of this cohort in real time since the pandemic began, so when the first protests broke out after the killing of George Floyd, we were able to quickly add research questions specific to the issue of racial inequality. The result is four Influencing Young Americans to Act 2020 reports that reveal the kinds of actions young people have taken since Floyd’s death, as well as some of the other factors that have influenced young people since March.

Here are five key takeaways from the reports:

1. Charitable giving by young Americans is up. At the end of 2019, we asked young Americans what action they preferred to make when they supported social issues; only 9 percent said making a charitable gift. That number had inched up to 10 percent by the time a pandemic was declared in March, and ticked up again, to 12 percent in April, where it stayed in May. We expected this number to continue to tick up as social distancing guidelines remained in place in populated urban areas. Instead, as the protests sparked by George Floyd’s death grew in intensity in late May and early June, we began to see proof of what we have long believed and shared with our readers: passion drives participation. Indeed, during the first week of the protests, one-fifth (20 percent) of survey respondents who self-identified as either white, black, or a person of color made a charitable gift. And the passion we are seeing around the issue has sparked support beyond financial donations, including higher levels of volunteerism and advocacy.

2. Interest in online influencers is up. In the initial stages of the pandemic, family and friends were the major influencers in terms of how young Americans perceived and responded to the public health threat. By mid-April, young Americans were more likely to take their cues from local government, while 60 percent of members of this cohort said they were not looking to celebrities or online influencers/content creators for virus-related information. That started to change in mid-May, by which time the percentage of respondents who aid they were not relying on celebrities or online influencers/content creators for COVID information had fallen to 48 percent. The Black Lives Matter protests drove that number down further, especially among young Black Americans. During the first week of June, the percentage of respondents who said they weren’t turning to online influencers/content creators for information had fallen to 33 percent; broken down by racial group, we found that 43 percent of white respondents and 58 percent of young black respondents were looking to social influencers for news about race-based discrimination, racial inequality, and social injustice.

3. Young Americans trust nonprofits and distrust Donald Trump. As the protests were spreading in earnest in early June, nearly 50 percent of young Americans said they felt President Trump was not addressing racial issues “well at all,” with only 16 percent of white/Caucasian respondents saying he was handling the situation “moderately well.” Majorities of both white and black respondents also said they trust social movements and nonprofits more than the president or government to do what’s right with respect to racial inequality, race-based discrimination, and social injustice — a change from the early days of the pandemic, when local government and nonprofits garnered the highest trust rankings.

4. Purchases and companies can influence change. Over a decade of research, we have watched young Americans use their purchasing power to influence companies and brands to support the causes and social issues they care about. But how and where this cohort spends its money became much more obviously intentional after the 2016 presidential election. In the weeks after the election, we found that more than a third (37 percent) of young Americans had shifted their purchasing patterns in significant ways to align more with their positions on social issues. By 2018, a majority of this group believed their purchasing decisions represented a powerful form of activism, and by this spring, as shutdowns and stay-at-home orders became the rule, young Americans were focused on the economic sustainability of local businesses and the things they could do to help business owners. At the same time, eight out of ten (80 percent) young Americans believe companies can influence public attitudes with respect to behaviors that can help limit the spread of the virus. The same belief is reflected in our June survey, with 74 percent of respondent saying companies can have “a great deal” or “some” influence in addressing race-based discrimination, racial inequality, and social injustice.

5. Young Americans are creating new channels of influence. Younger millennials and Gen Z are the most educated young Americans the country has ever seen, and thanks to technology they have the kind of reach that activists in the past could only dream about. With those tools, we see them working to bring about change by petitioning political representatives, mounting advocacy campaigns, and turning out like-minded voters. They also are supporting brands that embody their values, calling out brands that only give lip service to those values, and directing more money to local and small-business owners. And they are giving to the causes they are passionate about.

The coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd are showing us how rapidly a fundraising and marketing strategy can be turned upside down. How well nonprofits respond in the months to come will depend on their familiarity with and connection to their audiences and their willingness to adjust their fundraising tactics and appeals to meet the moment.

(Credit: Keiko Hiromi/AFLO)

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the author of Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change, the founder of the Millennial Impact Project, and lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence. You can read more by Derrick here.

5 Questions for...EunSook Lee, Director, AAPI Civic Engagement Fund

June 25, 2020

Launched in 2014 with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New YorkEvelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Ford Foundationand Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund works to foster a culture of civic participation among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). Since its inception, the fund has provided funding to strengthen the capacity of twenty-five AAPI organizations in seventeen states working to inform, organize, and engage AAPI communities and advance policy and systems change. 

EunSook Lee, who has served as director of the fund since its inception, coordinated the 2012 National AAPI Civic Engagement Project for the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development and, prior to that, served as senior deputy for Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), as executive director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), and as executive director of Korean American Women In Need.

PND spoke with Lee earlier this month about xenophobia and racism in the time of COVID-19, the importance of civic engagement in an election year, and her vision for fostering a greater sense of belonging among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

EunSook Lee_AAPI CEFPND: The AAPI Civic Engagement Fund was created by a group of funders who saw a need to expand and deepen community and civic engagement among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, who historically have been both a community of color and a predominantly immigrant and refugee population. After more than a hundred and sixty years of immigration from Asia, why, in 2013, midway through Barack Obama's second term, did the AAPI community become a focus for funders?

EunSook Lee: While we launched the fund in 2013, it was conceived as an idea after the 2012 elections, a season that was emblematic of how funding had flowed in the past to AAPI communities: episodically and chaotically. Just months before the presidential election, a burst of investment came in from civic participation funders and political campaigns in support of efforts to get out the vote in AAPI communities. As part of that influx, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation pledged $1 million for a national project focused on civic engagement and identified National CAPACD as the organization to host the effort.

In a very short period of time, we made grants to dozens of groups, connected them to State Voices and other civic engagement entities for the first time, and provided support where we could to help them execute their plans for the election. With a few exceptions, most AAPI groups had not been sufficiently resourced or supported to develop their infrastructure. We couldn't sit back and hope they would succeed, so we did a bit of everything to help them build the capacity they needed to get the word out in their communities.

We also decided it was important to show how AAPI communities had voted, so we partnered with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education FundLatino Decision, and others to hold a first-of-its-kind multiracial election eve poll that polled Asian Americans in their own languages. The resulting data enabled us to shift the narrative on Asian-American civic engagement, demonstrating that the Asian-American community had turned out in record numbers and that its views on most issues were in alignment with the views of other voters of color.

Following the 2012 elections, a number of funders became interested in pursuing a longer-term effort to build year-round capacity for AAPI groups and put an end to the cycle of episodic funding tied to election cycles. And that's how the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund was born.

PND: The coronavirus pandemic and some of the political rhetoric it has engendered have heightened the visibility of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in ways that have not always been positive or welcome. What are you hearing from grantees about the kinds of challenges they are facing as a result of the public health crisis, and how is the fund responding?

EL:  The challenges resulting from coronavirus are layered. At the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund, we acknowledge how difficult the work is for AAPI groups that may not have the resources or capacity to meet current needs but know they cannot turn their backs on the communities they serve.

Language barriers are a primary obstacle for our partners right now. Local and federal agencies are setting up new programs, processes, and rules as they go, and that basic information is not reaching non-English speakers. Whether it is about applying for unemployment or getting information about small business loans or helping your child with online learning, monolingual AAPIs are navigating a maze with little to no language support. At the same time, physical offices are closed, so those who are not familiar with Zoom or struggle with Internet connectivity are unable to get the information through other means.

After the three Vietnamese papers serving the tri-county Philadelphia area had to shut down due to the coronavirus, Philadelphia-based VietLead and other grassroots groups started making wellness calls to community members. Others are translating support materials and posting them online, holding in-language webinars on Zoom, and posting information on YouTube and Facebook, which are easier for many people to access. Some have also distributed information directly to homes along with drop-offs of basic food supplies. And because those who are undocumented have been unable to access the majority of relief programs, a number of AAPI groups have set up their own cash-relief programs for those who have been left out.

The anti-China rhetoric that began with the Trump administration has exacerbated and exposed longstanding bigotry against Asian Americans in this country. A number of our grantee partners are working with their communities to track incidents of racism, and all have heard from community members who have been subjected to verbal abuse and bullying, denial of service, vandalism, graffiti, and even physical assaults. Some of the cases of discrimination are occurring in the workplace and may be considered civil rights violations. Others rise to the level of a hate crime.

NativeHawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) have been especially impacted on account of existing inequities. One-fifth of NHPIs are uninsured, and in general they suffer from higher rates of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Partly because of those factors, the latest figures for California show that NHPIs are nine times more likely to contract COVID-19 and are dying at a disproportionately higher rate than any other group in the state.

We are working to support and amplify the various ways AAPI groups that are responding to this health crisis. We established the Anti-Racism Response Network Fund, which to date has made emergency grants totaling over $1.5 million to an estimated forty groups in twenty states. We are also working with sister funds to direct some of their COVID relief funds to AAPI groups. We also plan to support the online convenings of these groups as they do what they can to support each other, learn about each other's programs, and find ways to collaborate and amplify the voices of progressive AAPIs.

PND: Voter registration and turnout rates among AAPIs, despite being historically lower than those of other populations, have risen in recent years. As highlighted in a 2019 report from the fund and the Groundswell Fund, 76 percent of AAPI women said that they had encouraged friends and family to vote in the 2018 midterm elections. How do you see that trend playing out among the AAPI population in the 2020 elections? And what kind of role do you think AAPI women might play?

EL: The Wisconsin primary was disastrous in terms of protecting the health of voters and running the election efficiently. AAPI groups focused on civic engagement and the empowerment of their communities are vital to advocating for safe, efficient alternatives such as vote by mail, ensuring language access, and getting the vote out. We have heard about a range of systems failures that COVID-19 has exacerbated, especially cases of incompetent leadership at various levels of government. Because our groups are connected to their members, they are best positioned to galvanize them to vote.

More specifically, AAPI women are being recognized as critical organizers and community leaders. Our 2018 Asian American Election Eve Poll talked about how they not only were more active in protests and at the polls but also effectively mobilized others. In fact, twenty of our twenty-two core civic engagement grantees are led or co-led by women. There is no question that AAPI women will continue to power this movement through the 2020 elections and beyond, driving voter turnout and raising awareness about the issues most important to their communities.

PND: AAPIs Connect: Harnessing Strategic Communications to Advance Civic Engagement, a report recently published by the fund, notes that "[t]echnology offers the potential for AAPIs to be more connected with one another and to [the] larger society, but...it also has the potential to exacerbate divisions and create a more disconnected America." How is technology exacerbating division and disconnection within the AAPI community? And what are the biggest challenges AAPI groups face in building capacit — not just in the area of communications, but overall?

EL: At one time, there were a few mainstream media outlets that most Americans relied on for their news. For those who were bilingual or monolingual, in-language media supplemented that access to information. While there is now an explosion of platforms where information and news is being disseminated, some of the critical in-language news outlets are financially unstable or shutting down. Our national conversation has suffered as a result. At the same time, AAPI communities are being left out of many conversations. Not only is there a greater likelihood of our being isolated from the mainstream or from other communities in terms of the information we consume, there's also a greater possibility that we may end up being uninformed or misinformed.

AAPI groups have an opportunity to play a greater role in addressing this disconnect by looking at ways to build their communications infrastructure. But they need support and funding to deepen that work and make an impact on the local, bi-multi-lingual/biliterate, harder-to-reach populations.

As in other areas, AAPI communities and community-based organizations are often playing catch-up. According to our grantee partners, the biggest barrier they face in building communications capacity is a lack of resources. That includes funding to support dedicated staffing, skills building, and tools that equip them to communicate the critical work they are doing in their communities.

That has become a focus for our fund, to support the training and building up of the strategic communications capacity of AAPI groups. Funders can help by dedicating more resources in terms of grants and other learning opportunities so that AAPI groups can establish their media and communications muscle and infrastructure. They can also look at ways to strengthen movement-wide tools and overall creating funding strategies with a racial equity and intersectional justice lens.

PND: Over the course of your career, you've led grassroots nonprofits, served as a congressional staffer, and worked as a consultant to funders. Having observed the process of social change from all those perspectives, what is your number-one recommendation, in this moment of uncertainty, for groups that are looking to bring about social change?

EL: It is essential in this moment that AAPI organizations be seen — and see themselves — as part of this larger movement-moment in an authentic, non-performative way. We cannot be used as a wedge to divide or undermine the focus on systemic racism. We must commit to genuine and radical solidarity over the long term based on an understanding of how freedom for our respective communities is intertwined. We must push forward pro-Blackness in our communities and share analysis on the root causes of anti-Blackness, which is keeping us from true systemic change.

Many AAPI organizing groups are centering Black lives and framing anti-Blackness through the lens of our lived experience. Civil rights and organizing groups are including AAPIs in their efforts to tackle poverty, health inequities, and barriers to reentry for individuals emerging from incarceration. But there is an opportunity in this moment to dig deeper, to acknowledge that your organization may not have done as much as it could have to follow Black leadership and work with organizations that have deep ties to the Black community and have been doing this work for many years.

It is important that AAPI organizations examine our practices and past policy decisions to better align our future actions with our words. We must think more deeply about what it means for organizations to be anti-racist, to tackle systemic inequities, and to embrace an agenda that goes beyond our immediate self-interest. To achieve this, we need more AAPI organizers and social justice organizations, not fewer, better infrastructure and increased capacity, and more financial support for that infrastructure and capacity.  

— Kyoko Uchida

Foundations step up funding for COVID-19 response efforts (May 16-June 15, 2020)

June 14, 2020

Foundations-pledge-support-for-covid-19-relief-update_full_imageAs COVID-19 continues to disrupt life in the United States and around the globe, 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 announced over the last three weeks:

ALASKA

Rasmuson Foundation, Anchorage, AK | $550,000

The Rasmuson Foundation has announced twelve grants totaling $550,000 in support of COVID-19 response efforts as well as rural healthcare initiatives in Alaska. The second round of funding awarded in partnership with Premera Blue Cross and the Alaska Community Foundation through the Premera Rural Health Care Fund includes grants of $25,000 to the Arctic Slope Native Association for the purchase of oxygen bottles for COVID-19 patients; $65,316 to the Bartlett Regional Hospital for a COVID-19 triage tent; and $32,500 to the Copper River Native Association for emergency room telemedicine equipment.

CALIFORNIA

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Redwood City, CA | $755,000

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has announced grants totaling $755,000 in support of efforts to address the mental well-being of students and teachers impacted by the coronavirus. The Crisis Text Line, which saw a 22 percent increase in texts from students age 17 and younger between March and May, was awarded $550,000 to increase the number of trained volunteer counselors who provide real-time support and references to local care and services, while Healthy Minds Innovations will receive $205,000 to expand its app-based Healthy Minds Program, which is designed to help educators build awareness, connection, insight, and purpose.

Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $1 million

The University of California, Los Angeles has announced a $1 million commitment from the Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation in support of the UCLA COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative, a partnership of the Fielding School of Public Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine. The gift will enable researchers to test frontline health workers and first responders for active COVID infections, antibodies, and immune response on a regular basis, facilitating rapid diagnosis and helping protect their colleagues and family members.

Omidyar Network, Redwood City, CA | Up to $750,000

The Omidyar Network has announced the recipients of a first round of grants from its COVID-19 Economic Response Advocacy Fund. Through the fund, grants ranging from $75,000 to $150,000 were awarded to the Maine People's Alliance, Michigan People's Campaign, Free Press Action Fund, Roosevelt Institute, Jobs With Justice, Groundwork Action, and Make the Road New York together with Make the Road Action.

startsmall LLC, Mountain View, CA | $11.6 Million

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey's limited liability company, #startsmall, has announced commitments totaling $11.6 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts. Commitments include $5 million to World Central Kitchen in support of its Restaurants for the People program in Oakland and another $5 million to former presidential candidate Andrew Yang's nonprofit, Humanity Forward, to help fund a project that provides basic income payments to individuals and families most at risk of experiencing loss of income. Other recipients include Eminem's Marshall Mathers Foundation ($750,000), the Edgewood Center for Children and Families ($350,000), and Sisterhearts, Inc. ($500,000). With this latest round of grants, Dorsey has committed more than $85 million to COVID relief since April, when he pledged $1 billion of his equity stake in Square to charity.

John and Mary Tu Foundation, Fountain Valley, CA | $1 million

The University of California, San Diego has announced a $1 million gift from the John and Mary Tu Foundation in support of translational research aimed at advancing COVID-19 testing and advancing new diagnostics, therapies, and ways to monitor the spread of the virus. The funds will support a team led by virologist Davey Smith, who has been working to sequence the virus and track it as it spreads into vulnerable populations, as well as leading clinical trials of new treatments for those who have developed moderately severe cases of COVID-19.

Weingart Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $2.7 million

The Weingart Foundation has announced unrestricted operating support grants totaling $2.7 million to twenty-eight nonprofits impacted by the coronavirus. Recipients include the South L.A. Transit Empowerment Zone ($200,000), community-based housing organizations East L.A. Community Corporation ($100,000), and Reach Out West End and Access California Services ($100,000). In the belief that unrestricted funding remains the best way to help nonprofits respond and adapt to the public health emergency, the foundation plans to award up to $20 million in general operating support over the next twelve months.

COLORADO

Katz Amsterdam Foundation, Edgewater, CO | $1 million

Vail Resorts chair and CEO Rob Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam, have announced a $1 million grant from the Katz Amsterdam Foundation to the Tulane University School of Medicine in support of efforts to expand COVID-19 testing for populations most at risk in the metro Denver region.

Community First Foundation, Arvada, CO | $454,750

In a second round of funding through its Jeffco Hope Fund, the Community First Foundation has announced grants totaling $454,750 to help stabilize Jefferson County nonprofits that may not be providing direct services to county residents but have been negatively impacted by the virus due to canceled or suspended programming and fundraising events and/or a falloff in donations. Grant recipients include the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, and Seniors' Resource Center, Inc.

CONNECTICUT

Antonacci Family Foundation, Enfield, CT | $250,000

The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts has received grants totaling more than $250,000 from the Antonacci Family Foundation, MassLive.com reports. Awarded through the foundation's Millions of Meals initiative, the funding will support the food bank's network partners in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties; its Brown Bag Food for Elders sites in twenty-one cities and towns in Hampshire and Franklin counties; and its Mobile Food Bank programs in Amherst, Easthampton, Greenfield, and Turners.

FLORIDA

Helios Education Foundation, Tampa, FL | $650,000

Helios Education Foundation and the Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities have announced the Helios-Florida Consortium COVID-19 Summer Completion Grant Initiative in support of low-income students at risk of not completing their degrees as a result of the public health emergency and its economic fallout. Funded by a $650,000 investment from Helios, the initiative will provide students at Florida International University, the University of Central Florida, and the University of South Florida with up to $1,250 to help meet expenses not covered by the CARES ACT or traditional financial aid.

ILLINOIS

Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, Chicago, IL | $1 Million

The Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, a funder collaborative that supports proven and promising approaches to gun violence prevention, has announced changes to its annual grant program and is awarding rapid response funding to organizations impacted by COVID-19. Grants were awarded to a hundred and sixty-four nonprofits working in twenty-one neighborhoods on Chicago's South and West Sides to build social cohesion and trust, foster cooperation between residents and the police, and adapt their programming in line with social-distancing requirements.

INDIANA

Ball Brothers Foundation, Muncie, IN | $35,000

The Ball Brothers Foundation has announced grants totaling $35,000 to Ball State University and Ivy Tech Community College in support of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. The grants include $5,000 to help BSU College of Health's clinics provide telehealth services; $25,000 in support of planning efforts at local K-12 schools as administrators and teachers prepare for the fall; and $5,000 to Ivy Tech Community College's COVID-19 Relief Fund.

KENTUCKY

James Graham Brown Foundation, Louisville, KY | $1.5 million

The University of Louisville has announced a $1.5 million gift from the James Graham Brown Foundation in support of the Co-Immunity Project, a collaboration of the UofL Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute, Louisville Healthcare CEO Council, and Baptist Health, Norton Healthcare, and UofL Health systems. The funding will support expanded testing of individuals for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, as well as the testing of wastewater, with the goal of developing a "virus radar" that provides real-time data for tracking and curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Kentucky.

LOUISIANA

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, New Orleans, LA | $150,000

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, with support from the Helis, W.K. Kellogg, and Josef Sternberg Memorial foundations, has announced emergency relief grants totaling $150,000 through its Louisiana Culture Care Fund. Grants of between $5,000 and $12,000 were awarded to seventeen nonprofits, including the Amistad Research Center ($10,000), the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana ($10,000), and the Louisiana Preservation Alliance ($7,500).

MAINE

Sam L. Cohen Foundation, Portland, ME | $1 Million

The Sam L. Cohen Foundation has pledged $1 million in support of organizations and projects providing direct services to populations in Maine impacted by COVID-19. To date, the foundation has awarded thirty-one grants totaling $520,000, including $120,000 in support of programs for low-income individuals and those experiencing homelessness; $100,000 in support of healthcare, mental health, and eldercare services; $180,000 in support of food assistance programs; and $50,000 to COVID-19 community reliefs funds in Cumberland and York counties.

MICHIGAN

Kresge Foundation, Troy, MI | $4.2 Million

The Kresge Foundation has announced grants and grant supplements totaling $4.2 million in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts in Detroit, Memphis, and across the United States. The foundation awarded new grants totaling approximately $2 million to nonprofits and state agencies, including PolicyLink (Oakland, California), which will receive $500,000 in support of the Convergence Partnership, a funder collaborative that invests in efforts to address structural and institutional barriers affecting the health and well-being of marginalized communities; United States Artists, which was awarded $250,000 to address, through its Artist Relief Fund, the immediate financial needs of individual artists and creative workers; and Whole Child Strategies, which will receive $200,000 in support of a coalition of place-based organizations providing emergency relief to low-income families in eight Memphis neighborhoods. As part of its commitment to provide grantees with more resources and flexibility to respond to the public health emergency, the foundation also is providing supplemental grant funds totaling $2.2 million to a hundred and twenty-four community development corporations and justice- and democracy-focused organizations.

Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Lansing, MI | $5.3 Million

The Michigan Health Endowment Fund has announced grants totaling $5.3 million in support of efforts to improve community health across the state and provide critical help during the COVID-19 crisis. The total includes more than $4.5 million in health impact grants to fifty-two organizations and projects — including many focused on food access, support for older adults, and mental health services — and more than $809,000 in capacity-building grants to eighteen organizations with annual budgets under $5 million. Recipients include the Autism Alliance of Michigan ($100,000), Community Housing Network, Inc. ($50,000), Grand Rapids African American Health Institute ($89,420), Mosaic Counseling ($30,000), Our Kitchen Table ($24,050), and Sylvester Broom Empowerment Village ($100,000).

NEW JERSEY

Russell Berrie Foundation, Teaneck, NJ | $4.48 Million

The Russell Berrie Foundation has announced emergency grants totaling $4.48 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in northern New Jersey and Israel. The grants will assist nonprofits working to address medical and healthcare needs, food and economic insecurity, and other social impacts of the pandemic. Grant recipients include Holy Name Medical Center ($250,000), the NJ YMCA Alliance (200,000), the Community Food Bank of New Jersey ($100,000), the Jewish Federation of Northern NJ ($50,000), Azrieli Faculty of Medicine of the Bar Ilan University ($500,000), and the Arab-Jewish Center for Empowerment, Equality, and Cooperation ($50,000).

Kessler Foundation, East Hanover, NJ | $1 Million

The Kessler Foundation has announced COVID-19 emergency grants totaling nearly $1 million to New Jersey nonprofits serving people with disabilities. Thirty-seven organizations received grants ranging from $10,000 to $40,000 to help cover unanticipated needs and expenses, including technology required for remote operations, personal protective equipment (PPE), and supplies needed to meet new federal and state requirements for sanitation and safety measures.

NEW YORK

William T. Grant Foundation, New York, NY; Spencer Foundation, Chicago, IL | $900,000

The William T. Grant and Spencer foundations have announced commitments totaling up to $900,000 with the goal of reducing disparities in youth outcomes exacerbated by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Two initial Rapid Response Research grants will support collaborations between researchers and policy makers — the first between the Boston mayor's office and Northeastern University professor Alicia Modestino, who will use evidence-based design to try to save the city's summer employment programs for youth, and the second bringing together researchers from Drexel University's Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to inform alternatives to confinement for young people caught up in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Price Family Foundation, New York, NY | $1 million

Albert Einstein College of Medicine has announced a $1 million challenge grant from Michael F. Price and the Price Family Foundation in support of COVID-19 research. The foundation will match donations on a one-to-one basis to the school, which, in partnership with Montefiore, is leading a national effort to test the efficacy of convalescent plasma for treating those fighting the infection, as well as studies on potential treatments such as remdesivir, leronlimab, and sarilumab.

Surdna Foundation, New York, NY | $4.6 Million

The Surdna Foundation has announced that it has allocated $4.6 million to date in support of grantees working to meet needs in communities of color disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Among other things, the funding will support efforts to assist business owners and workers, mitigate the impact on individual artists of color and small and midsize arts nonprofits serving communities of color, and bolster relief efforts and community organizing in black, brown, and Indigenous communities, with a focus on land, food, and environmental justice. Where appropriate, the foundation also has converted project grants and conference registration fees to general operating support, adjusted the terms of grants, waived project reports, expedited grant payments, and streamlined grant renewals.

Bob Woodruff Foundation, New York, NY | $1.9 million

The Bob Woodruff Foundation has announced $1.9 million grants to thirteen organizations working to provide veterans, service members, and their families and caregivers with health and wellness services; support veterans and military families transitioning into civilian communities; and address the acute and critical needs of veterans impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Grant recipients include Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which is working to address the immediate emotional and financial needs of military survivors facing increased anxiety and depression as a result of the loss of income and isolation caused by COVID-related shutdowns; the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center's Medical-Legal Partnerships, which is providing legal services needed to address complex social factors affecting veterans' housing status, health, and well-being; and Goodwill Industries of Houston, which will provide vocational training to prepare veterans for high-need, high-growth careers.

Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Winston-Salem, NC | $2.7 million

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has announced investments totaling more than $2.7 million in flexible funding for COVID-19 relief efforts in Forsyth County and across North Carolina. Grants were awarded to healthcare delivery systems, including hospitals and associated clinics, free clinics, and health centers that regularly see Medicaid, Medicare, and uninsured patients; local and statewide community foundations, many of which are helping nonprofits meet the basic needs of vulnerable populations; local health departments, which require additional capacity to test, track, and report cases, coordinate state- and local-level responses, and protect populations most at risk of infection; and grassroots groups and other nonprofits working to provide timely COVID-related information to marginalized populations.

PENNSYLVANIA

Richard King Mellon Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA | $200,000

The Richard King Mellon Foundation has awarded $200,000 to MasksOn.org to provide four thousand protective masks to Pittsburgh-area healthcare workers and first responders, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports. Designed by doctors with help from engineers from MIT and Google, the converted snorkeling masks will be provided to Allegheny County's seven Federally Qualified Health Centers, Excela Health and Bethlen Communities in Westmoreland County, and Westmoreland County firefighters.

VIRGINIA

Ivy Foundation, Charlottesville, VA | $2 million

The University of Virginia has announced a $2 million commitment from the Ivy Foundation in support of biomedical research focused on COVID-19. The Ivy Foundation COVID-19 Translational Research Fund will support research aimed at addressing diagnosis, treatment options, vaccine development, and healthcare worker protection needs.

________

"New Grant Awards Include COVID-19 Response Projects." Rasmuson Foundation Press Release 05/21/2020.

"Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Awards $700,000 to Support Mental Well-being of Educators, Students." Chan Zuckerberg Initiative press release 05/29/2020.

"UCLA receives $1 million for COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative." University of California, Los Angeles press release 05/26/2020.

"Omidyar Network Announces Initial Grants from COVID-19 Economic Response Advocacy Fund." Omidyar Network Press Release 05/27/2020.

"#startsmall Tracker." #startsmall Excel Sheet 05/21/2020.

"$1M gift speeds COVID-19 testing and tracking at UC San Diego." University of California, San Diego press release 05/28/2020.

"Unrestricted operating support will help nonprofits weather the COVID-19 crisis." Weingart Foundation press release 05/28/2020.

"Weingart Foundation unrestricted operating support grant awards: May 2020." Weingart Foundation press release 05/28/2020.

"Vail Resorts CEO to Donate $11.7 Million from SARs Exercise; Announces Grants to Support COVID-19 Efforts, Racial Justice Reform and Youth Access." Vail Resorts press release 06/08/2020.

"Jeffco Hope Fund Round 2 Aims to Help Jeffco Nonprofits Stabilize During Pandemic." Community First Foundation Press Release 05/21/2020.

"Big Y, Antonacci Family Foundation aid Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, as coronavirus pandemic makes it tough for families to keep food on the table." MassLive.com 06/03/2020.

"Helios Education Foundation and Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities Launch Summer Completion Grant Initiative." Helios Education Foundation Press Release.

"BBF awards special funding to support BSU and Ivy Tech COVID efforts." Ball Brothers Foundation press release 05/27/2020.

"Foundations Adapt $1 Million Anti-Violence Fund for Communities Hardest Hit by Virus & Gun Violence." Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities Press Release 05/20/2020.

"COVID-19 antibody initiative receives $1.5 million to expand testing, launch 'virus radar'." University of Louisville press release 06/08/2020.

"Thanks to support, LEH awards more emergency relief grants." Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities press release 05/28/2020.

"Sam L. Cohen Foundation Commits $1 Million to Support COVID-19 Response and Recovery in Cumberland and York Counties." Sam. L. Cohen Foundation Press Release 05/11/2020.

"$4.2M in New Grants to Equip National Nonprofit Response to COVID-19 Pandemic." Kresge Foundation Press Release 05/14/2020.

"Investing $5.3 Million in the Health of Michigan Communities." Michigan Health Endowment Fund Press Release 05/18/2020.

"The Russell Berrie Foundation Announces $4.48 Million in Emergency Grants to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts in New Jersey and Israel." Russell Berrie Foundation Press Release 05/19/2020.

"Kessler Foundation Awards COVID-19 Emergency Grants to Grantees Serving People With Disabilities in New Jersey." Kessler Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"William T. Grant and Spencer Foundations award rapid response research grants to combat youth inequality exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic." William T. Grant Foundation and Spencer Foundation press release 06/01/2020.

"Luce Foundation emergency grants support underserved communities in the US." Henry Luce Foundation press release 06/05/2020.

"Grants information." Henry Luce Foundation webpage 06/05/2020.

"Albert Einstein College of Medicine awarded $1 million challenge gift for COVID-19 research from the Price Family Foundation." Albert Einstein College of Medicine press release 06/02/2020.

"Solidarity and Support for Our Grantees." Surdna Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"Bob Woodruff Foundation announces $1.9 million investment in spring grant recipients." Bob Woodruff Foundation press release 06/09/2020.

"2020 spring grants." Bob Woodruff Foundation webpage 06/09/2020.

"Kate B. Reynolds Charitable trust invests more than $2.7 million in immediate, flexible funding to respond to COVID-19 in North Carolina." Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust press release 06/01/2020.

"Richard King Mellon Foundation brings converted snorkeling masks to Pittsburgh health care workers." Pittsburgh Business Times 06/01/2020.

"Ivy Foundation commits $2 million for COVID-19 translational research fund." University of Virginia press release 05/26/2020.

A good RFP attracts better partners for your project

June 05, 2020

Handshake_over_table_PhilanTopicjpgWhen thinking about what your organization should do to adjust to the "new normal," you may need a partner who can help you reimagine your mission and vision and develop a strategy. The partner may be a branding agency, a fundraising consultant, or someone who can assist you in revising your strategic plan. If the services you offer or the way you provide them has changed, it may be even more important to hire an objective outsider who can help you understand and shape your organization's future.

When hiring a consultant, your chances of finding the right partner will be greatly improved if you develop a clear Request for Proposal (RFP). If you don't know exactly what it is you want from a consultant, when you want it, and how much you are willing to pay, take a step back. You need to nail that down and develop a realistic timeline and budget. And that process itself may require some outside help.

Not only will a good RFP attract the right partner, it will also help your team come together around the details of the project.

To that end, every RFP should include:

1. An overview of your organization: Explain your mission, services, history, and structure so that interested consultants understand what you do and can determine whether their agency is a good match. You want to attract an agency that understands your issues and is enthusiastic about your cause, so provide them with accurate information. This doesn't have to become a writing project; use material from your website, brochures, grant proposals, and strategic plan. A few paragraphs should suffice.

2. Need and goals: The RFP should answer the following questions: What do you need and what are you hoping to accomplish with the project? How will your organization be improved as a result?

3. Outcomes: If possible, describe the specific outcomes you hope to achieve and the specific metrics you will use to measure the success of the initiative.

4. Reasons for the RFP: Explain what's specifically precipitating the need for the project at this time and any other relevant information that can provide context. Was the project planned before the pandemic or in response to it? What are the other urgent factors at play? The need to raise more funds? Changes in programs? New leadership and a new direction? A potential merger? The more the consultant knows, the better they will be able to address your specific needs.

5. Description of the project: Provide a full description of the project, including your overall objectives and the specific deliverables you are requesting. If there's a particular process that you want followed, indicate that. The more information you can provide, the better.

6. Audiences: Describe all the different audiences you want to reach with the project and any information you have about those audiences. This will help the consultant tailor their proposal appropriately.

7. Current and past efforts and results: Describe any previous projects you've undertaken that had similar goals or were targeted to similar audiences. Describe what worked and what didn't. If your project is a fundraising campaign, describe past appeals and their success. It's important to establish a baseline for what your organization has already accomplished.

8. Materials and data you already have: If you have donor or membership databases that can yield insights about your audiences, include that fact in your RFP. If you've sent out surveys recently or gathered data for a strategic plan,let the bidders know. If you have a brand manual or other materials that might be used in the project, specify that. Information you already have may reduce the scope of work and, therefore, the cost.

9. Relevance of project: Describe how the project relates to other initiatives or affects other areas of the organization. For example, you might explain how you hope an organizational branding project will be used as a model for chapters or programs, or how a strategic plan will guide the development of new revenue streams. Providing the larger context so that the consultant can help you achieve the outcomes you want.

10. Parties and process: Describe who will be involved in the project and what your work, review, and approval processes are. Indicate whether a subcommittee will be formed to handle the project, who the day-to-day contact is, what role the board will play, and who has or gives final approval.This can help the consultant to understand the flow and meetings and map out a plan that accommodates your needs.

11. Expectations for working together: Different consultants have different styles. Be clear about your expectations so that you find one likely to work well with your staff and who will fit in with your organization's culture. Explain what it is you are looking for in terms of work process, deliverables and results, methods of communication, and any other aspect of the collaboration that is important to you.

11. Creative expectations: Understanding your expectations for a creative outcome can be difficult, so try to provide asmuch information as possible about it as you can. Mention any guidelines that would be relevant for the project (e.g., a brand style guide). For a branding and marketing project, it's also very helpful to provide samples of materials and websites that your team likes. These can give potential partners a better idea of the outcomes you're expecting. If you have specific requirements or requests regarding outcomes, include them in the RFP.

12. Timing: Be realistic about how much time the process will take and the amount of work required. The more research needed upfront, the longer the project will take. You also need to allow time for input and approval from all parties, as well as time for the consultant to do his or her work. Recognize,too, that a "rush" project will affect the process and the fee.

13. Budget: It is essential to let bidders know your budget for the project. Determine your budget based on the value the project will bring to your organization and then find an agency that can deliver what you need within budget. If you ask for bids without specifying a budget, you may get Cadillac bids fora Chevy budget, which wastes both your time and the consultant's. Conversely, if your rebranding requirements and budget are Cadillacs, don't waste your time looking at Chevys.

If you are at a loss about how much a project might cost, spend some time talking with outside firms to get a general idea of possible cost.And ask other nonprofits what they spent on similar projects and what they received in return.

14. Evaluation criteria: Explain the criteria you'll use to evaluate and select a consultant for the project. It takes a lot of time to develop a good proposal, so be fair to the consultants you've engaged. Spell out your top three selection criteria and be specific. Is experience in the nonprofit sector important? Do you want a partner with specific skills?

15. Evaluation process and timing: On the first page of the RFP, give the due date for the proposal and the name, email, and phone number of the contact person to whom the proposal should be sent. Indicate who will make your decisions for each step. For example:

  • Proposals due June 1, as a PDF, emailed to [name, title, and email address].
  • Review of proposals by Executive Director and Development Director.
  • Selection of three firms by June 15.
  • Meetings of Committee with firms from June 15–25.
  • Final selection on June 30.

Stick to your schedule. If you can't, let the competing agencies know — they're expecting to hear from you and may be turning down other projects in anticipation of working with your organization.

The RFP is just the beginning

Don't put walls between yourself and those who interested in responding to the RFP. The best firms will want to speak with you before submitting a proposal, so let them. In fact, be wary of firms that don't call or ask questions. If requested, provide access to your leadership as well. These pre-proposal discussions can result in proposals tailored to your needs and are an opportunity for you to get to know the competing firms before you make a commitment to one.

Be sure to let bidders know who else you sent the RFP to so they can decide whether they want to participate and, if they do, can use that information to help highlight what sets them apart from the others.

Some nonprofits ask for all questions to be submitted in writing and then send out the answers to everyone's questions to all bidders under the assumption that it is fair and serves their interests in getting the strongest proposals. In fact, it does the opposite. By giving away one firm's questions, you are essentially eliminating what makes them special — handicapping them. For example, if you put out an RFP for an ad campaign and an agency asks if you are open to using public relations or social media to accomplish your goals, and you let all the bidders know you are, then they will all scramble to add that to their proposal by partnering with other agencies with those skills. You, on the other hand, will have no idea that the agency that asked that question is the only one that is thinking creatively about how to solve your marketing needs.

Follow-up

Finally, be professional. Communicate with the firms during the process so they know where they stand. Let all firms know when you have made your final selection. Some agencies spend a lot of time developing customized proposals, so give them the courtesy of letting them know a decision has been made. Also, let them know why they were not selected. It will help them do a better job next time.

Howard_Adam_Levy_Red_Rooster_Group_PhilanTopicHoward Adam Levy is president of the Red Rooster Group, a brand strategy firm that works with nonprofits, governments, and foundations.

The power of diverse boards: an argument for change

June 04, 2020

Diversity_board_PhilanTopic_GettyImagesWe have a lot of work to do. Most of us have known this for some time, but the events of the last few weeks highlight just how much work remains to be done. The fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion never ends, and a clear and ongoing commitment to all three is needed if we are to create positive change. That commitment must start at the top.

Boards of directors operate at the highest level of organizational leadership, with each director expected to play a role in the development of the organization's strategic vision, operations, and overall culture. Numerous studies have shown that diversity positively impacts a company's financial performance. Indeed, a McKinsey & Company study found that firms in the top quartile for ethnic diversity in management and board composition are 35 percent more likely to earn financial returns above their respective national industry median.

Is the same true for the social sector? Is it important for nonprofit boards to embrace and model diversity, equity, and inclusion? The answer, unequivocally, is yes, and here's why:

Diversity drives organizational performance

Diversity inspires innovation. A board that is diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender, and skill sets is more likely to generate innovation and push all its members to be more creative and open-minded. Today more than ever, social sector organizations need to develop multiple revenue streams, and leading-edge expertise in areas ranging from strategy to financial planning to operations is critical to a board's ability to conduct effective oversight.

Diversity catalyzes creativity. Diverse boards tend to be better at creative problem solving. Those who have had to adapt to physical disabilities encounter challenges on a daily, if not hourly, basis, while those subjected to systematic racism have had to adapt their entire lives. The ability to overcome challenges often translates to adaptive leadership, opening a world of possibilities in terms of program execution and organizational management.

Diversity fosters network breadth. Current or past clients who serve as board members add an element of authenticity and credibility to board deliberations and can serve as a "voice of experience" that informs and improves program planning. A greater awareness of who is actually being served gives boards information they need to develop strategies grounded in real-world facts. Such an understanding also provides context for proper resource allocation and effective strategic action, while helping to deepen an organization's relevance and impact.

Inclusion drives action

Let's try a thought experiment: take away all the benefits created by more diverse boards and imagine what the sector would look like :

  • too many nonprofits relying on a single, precarious revenue stream;
  • approaches to problem solving that are never improved on because "it has always been done that way";
  • clients who are viewed as beneficiaries rather than as equal partners in collective change efforts;
  • recruitment of staff and donors from among those who look and think like us; and
  • logic models and outcomes metrics informed by a single point of view.

Something magical and important happens when differences not only are not dismissed but are valued. But the benefits that diversity brings to a board are unlikely to be realized without an equal focus on inclusion. The perspective of all board members must be continuously sought and heard, and differences of opinion should always be welcomed.

Equity is the result

Equity and systems change are the outcomes of leaders fully embracing diversity and inclusion. In the absence of inclusion, it is too easy to become comfortable in our silence. Without diversity of thought and perspective, our value systems are compromised and systemic injustice goes unchallenged.

It is clear that board diversity, equity, and inclusion matter for all organizations, and especially so for nonprofits. To truly maximize a nonprofit's effectiveness, as well as its financial success, nonprofit boards must work diligently to ensure that different viewpoints are heard and incorporated. Change doesn't happen automatically or overnight. Boards must actively seek out those who can bring new perspectives to the table and challenge the status quo.

For those who currently serve on a nonprofit board, now is the time to act. Speak to your colleagues about steps the board can take to develop internal policies aimed at strengthening its diversity and begin to build a foundation for organizational leadership that supports change.

Similarly, if you've ever considered lending your time and talent to a nonprofit, now is the time to connect with one that is aligned with your passion and expertise. In these challenging, uncertain times, nonprofits are looking for all the expertise they can get their hands on.

The success of any organization starts at the top. Boards that want to maximize their effectiveness and performance must include socially and professionally diverse individuals who are committed to doing the work and are prepared to speak up and act for change. Good luck!

Pam Cannell_for_PhilanTopicPam Cannell is CEO of BoardBuild and has dedicated her entire career to nonprofit leadership and board governance.

Maintaining a consistent fundraising stream: lessons learned from COVID-19

June 01, 2020

Top_keyboard_red_donate_button_GettyImagesOver the last few months, the staff at Valleywise Health Foundation has witnessed astounding levels of empathy and generosity directed toward healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in Maricopa County. Many nonprofits and public charities are hurting right now, so it's especially uplifting to see how charitable people can be in the face of hardship and uncertainty. Like many organizations, we continue to face challenges, but as we like to say around here, with challenges come opportunities.

During these unprecedented times, we've found three approaches to be critical to our ability to maintain a consistent funding stream and ensure continued support for healthcare workers in the Valleywise Health system: adapting critical programs to new formats; appealing to donors' sense of humanity; and utilizing new channels to reach donors and supporters. We believe all three approaches are something other philanthropic organizations can benefit from as they work to secure support for critical services that are likely to become even more essential in the weeks and months to come.

Adapt to a "new normal." Social distancing requirements are forcing the cancellation of public gatherings and events nationwide. This new reality is a challenge for nonprofits and foundations that rely on events to raise awareness of and funding for their programs. But instead of despairing over the cancellation of your gala fundraiser or summer meet-and-greet, try to think about it as an opportunity to pivot to something new. All it takes is a little flexibility, creativity, and patience.

Valleywise Health Foundation's "Night of Heroes" event — an annual fundraiser that celebrates "heroic" patient stories and recognizes Valleywise Health's doctors, nurses, and employees — was scheduled to take place on April 23, with Isabella McCune, a 10-year old who suffered second- and third-degree burns over 65 percent of her body in a 2018 accident but whose courageous spirit remains undimmed after more than a hundred surgeries and procedures, as our honoree. As it became clear, however, that we would not be able to hold an in-person event this year, we decided to convert the night into a virtual livestreamed event for invitees and others. The results exceeded our expectations, and we raised a record $225,000 — significantly more than last year's total — for the new Arizona Burn Center and COVID-19 emergency needs in the county. The online nature of the event also enabled us to reach a far larger audience of potential donors than our original venue would have accommodated, and our cost-per-dollar-raised fell to 24 cents, well below the national average of 50 cents for in-person events.

Make a human connection. In times like these, it's imperative that you continue to reach out to your donors and supporters. While the depths of a global pandemic may not seem like the best time to fundraise, many people are reflecting more than ever on what is truly important to them and looking for new ways to support their communities. In fact, this is a great time to tell them how their generosity can lift up their community and the causes they care about.

At Valleywise Health Foundation, we are communicating with our donors on a regular basis about the ways in which their support strengthens the efforts of local healthcare workers to provide the best possible care to all who need it. By making sure to include a touch of the personal in all the stories we share, we also make it clear to current and potential donors that their gifts are helping real people with real needs. Even if you're not making an ask today, you should be looking to show current and potential donors how important your organization's work is to the community and how critical their support for that work is.

Utilize new channels for reaching donors. With millions of Americans currently sheltering in place, social media has become an even more important fundraising and awareness-raising channel for nonprofits. At our foundation, we've also turned to various apps to help expand our capabilities. For instance, we used Fund Duel, a gamified online fundraising platform, to support our virtual "Night of Heroes." The app allowed us to collect and share donations in real time, reaching even more donors than we could have during an in-person event. Embracing new technologies and platforms can add a layer of complexity to your fundraising, but more often than not they will provide opportunities to reach even more people with your message.

While online tools and platforms can help you reach a bigger audience, keep in mind that the key to creating a deep connection with members of that audience is to keep your message local. In an emergency, people want to be assured that their support is helping their neighbors and community. In other words, when communicating through a variety of channels, keep the message focused on the impact your donors are helping to create.

It's important that philanthropic leaders remain patient and flexible during this public health emergency. There is a lot we don't know about this virus, and the entire world is trying to adapt to our new reality as quickly as it can. We're all in this together, and while we may be facing a new normal on the other side of it, we can take steps now to adapt, pivot, and make ourselves stronger and more resilient as a sector.

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Kevin_Neal_for_PhilanTopicKevin Neal serves as board chair for Valleywise Health Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that supports Valleywise Health, a comprehensive healthcare system serving Arizona's Maricopa County. To view the Night of Heroes livestream, digital event program, and film premiere, visit www.valleywisehero.org.

The Forgotten Sector?

May 27, 2020

20180602_USP501All nonprofit organizations, large or small, have one thing in common — they exist to provide a public benefit. Although smaller nonprofits, defined provisionally as having five hundred employees or fewer, have been able to take advantage of government lending programs established in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak — the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Main Street Lending Program (MSLP) — larger nonprofits have not. This is a major and potentially catastrophic oversight.

This oversight reflects the government's tunnel-vision tendency to view the economy and threats to the economy primarily through the lens of for-profit entities — i.e., big and small businesses. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it is not just our balance sheets that are at risk during this crisis. The U.S. social safety net, already threadbare, is in danger of collapse. Nonprofit organizations, especially the larger ones, are the last line of defense for millions in the fight to keep themselves from falling into abject poverty, illness, and despair.

The U.S. nonprofit sector is large, with annual expenditures of $2.5 trillion dollars. It employs 12 million people, the third-largest workforce in the country, behind retail and manufacturing. In and of itself, it is a significant part of our economy. But in the government's zeal to protect the health of the business sector, the essential role played by the nonprofit sector in safeguarding the health and safety of our most vulnerable citizens has been ignored.

A just-released analysis of the sector's financial vulnerability — Main Street Lending 2.0: A Proposal to Support Our Most Vital Nonprofits — by SeaChange Capital Partners and based on data provided by Candid, characterizes the COVID-19 crisis as "an extinction-level event" for nonprofit organizations. In other words, not only are the vital services provided by the sector at risk of being lost, so are untold numbers of nonprofit sector jobs.

Large nonprofits are a vital component of the nation's social safety net. Social services nonprofits, in particular, are providing resources to meet the needs of struggling families, including  frontline healthcare workers, such as food assistance, housing, and emergency childcare. As the SeaChange report points out, "Large nonprofits tend to be particularly important in areas like residential care (e.g., homeless shelters, foster care, homes for the developmentally disabled, etc.) where smaller organizations do not have the capacity (technology, HR, finance, compliance, etc.) or the scale to do the work."

What's more, nonprofits that provide social services operate with very slim margins. This is true not just of small nonprofits but of large ones as well. Here are some key facts from the report:

  • In the U.S., 1,548 large nonprofits provide social services.
  • Those nonprofits have annual expenses of $121 billion and total revenues of $123 billion.
  • The median social services nonprofit: operates with a margin of just 1 percent; receives just 6 percent of its revenue from philanthropy; has total financial assets equivalent to 1.9 months of expenses; and has operating reserves of less than a month of expenses.

Again, these are the large social services nonprofits, those with five hundred or more employees. And, as the analysis makes clear, many of them operate on the brink of insolvency even in normal times.

The SeaChange report argues forcefully that the eligibility requirements of the PPP and MSLP need to be modified to accommodate the crisis-related needs of both large nonprofit organizations as well as smaller ones. "PPP is already available," the report's authors write

to for-profit groups with more than 500 employees, provided they meet two conditions: (i) net income of $5.0 million or less and (ii) tangible net worth of $15 million or less. Unfortunately, the [Small Business Administration] has indicated in some of its guidance that nonprofits are not eligible under these criteria. Nonprofit ineligibility makes zero sense. Why would otherwise eligible organizations established for public purposes be less worthy of PPP assistance than those established for private gain?

Where the rules of the PPP thoughtlessly exclude many nonprofit organizations while including for-profit organizations with the same financial characteristics, the Main Street Lending Program ignores nonprofit organizations altogether.

The Federal Reserve has stated that "while nonprofit organizations are not currently eligible under the MSLP program, we acknowledge the unique needs of nonprofit organizations, many of which are on the front lines providing critical services and research to fight the pandemic...and will be evaluating the feasibility of adjusting the borrower eligibility criteria and loan eligibility metrics of the program for such organizations."

How is it that the nonprofit sector finds itself in such an absurd situation?

The U.S. federal government is good at paying attention to some things, and less to others. It is massively concerned with the financial health of the business sector, especially large businesses, as primary drivers of the U.S. economy. It honors and understands the important role of small businesses, as demonstrated by the existence of the Small Business Administration.

Because the federal government cares about the health of business, it knows a lot about the business sector and collects massive amounts of data on the sector on a continuous basis. Indeed, it knows so much about "small businesses" that it has a comprehensive 49-page document listing the specific size requirements that businesses across more than a thousand North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) categories must meet in order to qualify as "small" and be eligible for assistance from the SBA.

There is no such set of standards for defining what constitutes a large or small nonprofit organization. And the job of amassing and organizing basic data on the organizational health of the nonprofit sector has been left to the sector itself. If not for organizations such as Candid, the Urban Institute's Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, and a handful of others, such data would not be available at all.

All of this means that when legislative relief packages are being considered during times like these, our government has no systematic means at its disposal for assessing and responding to the financial needs of the U.S. nonprofit sector. Hence, the sector is treated as an afterthought, with resulting legislation that looks like the PPP and MSLP.

Although I've focused on social service nonprofits in this post, the SeaChange report discusses the economic challenges currently faced by all large U.S. nonprofits, including hospitals and health care, higher education, and arts and cultural organizations. It is MUST reading.

The COVID-19 crisis has stretched the capacity and resources of many nonprofit organizations to the breaking point. Without immediate attention to the financial challenges U.S. nonprofit organizations are facing, huge holes will be ripped in the nation’s social safety net, leading to catastrophic consequences for millions of U.S. citizens.

The government has largely outsourced the job of maintaining the social safety net to the nonprofit sector. But having outsourced much of this work, it has apparently forgotten that it still bears a fundamental responsibility to ensure that the basic survival needs of the nation’s most vulnerable populations are met. Every American requires and deserves at least a minimal level of protection from the fallout created by COVID-19.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Headshot_Larry_McGillLarryLarry McGill is vice president of research at Candid. This post originally appeared on the Candid blog. For more from Larry, check out the PhilanTopic archive.

Foundations Step Up Funding for COVID-19 Response Efforts (May 1-15, 2020)

May 17, 2020

CoronavirusAs COVID-19 continues to disrupt life in the United States and around the globe, 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 announced over the last two weeks:

ARIZONA

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, Phoenix, AZ | $2.9 Million

The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust has announced emergency grants totaling $2.9 million in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts in Maricopa County and across Arizona. The funding includes unrestricted grants totaling $2.51 million to six Maricopa County hospitals and hospital systems responding directly to the spread of the virus; $350,000 to the Arizona Community Foundation's Arizona COVID-19 Community Response Fund; and $50,000 to the Arizona Apparel Foundation in support of its Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center (FABRIC), which is investing in an industrial-level computerized cutting machine and additional sewing machines to produce much-needed personal protection equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. Since March 30, the trust has awarded COVID-related emergency grants totaling $9.2 million.

CALIFORNIA

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Redwood City, CA | $750,000

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has announced grants totaling $750,000 in support of five studies of COVID-19 disease progression at the level of the individual cell. To be conducted at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Ragon Institute, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Columbia University, VIB-UGent, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and the Josep Carreras Research Institute, the studies are expected to generate the first single-cell biology datasets from infected donors and provide insights into how the virus infects humans, which cell types are involved, and how the disease progresses. The data from the projects will be made available to the scientific community via open access datasets and portals.

William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Menlo Park, CA | $10 Million

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has announced a $10 million grant to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in the Bay Area. To be disbursed over the next twelve months, the funding will support SVCF's COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, which supports community-based organizations providing direct assistance to individuals and families impacted by COVID-19, and the Regional Nonprofit Emergency Fund, which provides flexible operating support grants to nonprofits working to provide residents of the region with food, shelter, health, and mental health services.

Imaginable Futures, Redwood City, CA | $3 Million

Imaginable Futures, an education venture spun off by Omidyar Network in January, has announced commitments totaling more than $3 million to provide immediate support for students, educators, and childcare providers in the United States, Latin America, and Africa impacted by COVID-19. Grants include $500,000 in support of Common Sense Media's Wide Open Schools, which aggregates high-quality educational content; $500,000 to Home Grown's Home-based Child Care Emergency Fund to help provide child care for essential workers and assistance to childcare providers; and, as part of a $1 million partnership with the Lemann Foundation, $500,000 to an emergency relief fund that will support access to high-quality curricula and technology for students in Brazil. The organization also is partnering with Shining Hope for Communities in Nairobi as well as Shujaaz, a network of social ventures based in Kenya and Tanzania.

W.M. Keck Foundation, Los Angeles, CA | $2 Million

The University of California, Los Angeles has announced a $2 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to establish the UCLA W.M. Keck Foundation COVID-19 Research Fund. The fund will support basic science research aimed at advancing understanding of the SARS-CoV2 virus, the mechanisms by which it causes COVID-19, and why some people are more susceptible to the disease, as well as the development of new methods to detect COVID-19 infections and therapies to treat the disease.

Craig Newmark Philanthropies, San Francisco, CA | $1 Million

The Anti-Defamation League has announced a two-year, $1 million grant from Craig Newmark Philanthropies in support of its Center on Technology and Society, which produces the Online Hate Index. "We know that the pandemic has had an outsized impact on vulnerable minority groups, including Asian Americans and Jewish Americans who are now being blamed and scapegoated online for creating and spreading the virus," said Newmark. "Now more than ever, it is vital to invest in innovative approaches to detect and stop hate speech from spreading online."

Roddenberry Foundation, North Hollywood, CA | $1 Million

The Gladstone Institutes have announced a $1 million commitment from the Roddenberry Foundation to its President's Coronavirus Research Fund in support of critical experiments by virologists working to understand the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Projects under way at Gladstone include the development of a diagnostic device using novel CRISPR technology, explorations of ways to block the entry of the virus into human cells, investigations of existing FDA-approved drugs as treatments, and the creation of a research hub to support the study of live virus.

Rosenberg Foundation, San Francisco, CA | $550,000

The Rosenberg Foundation has announced a first round of rapid response grants totaling more than $550,000 to organizations working to protect populations hardest hit by the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. Grants were awarded in the areas of mass incarceration ($260,000), farm worker rights ($150,000), and immigrant rights ($140,000). Grantees include Reform LA Jails, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and the California Immigrant Resilience Fund.

John and Mary Tu Foundation, Fountain Valley, CA | $2.5 Million

The University of California, Irvine has announced a $2.5 million gift from the John and Mary Tu Foundation in support of COVID-related patient care at UCI Health as well as clinical and translational research focused on new ways to test for and treat infections. Half the gift will support physicians, nurses, and other caregivers at UCI Medical Center working to provide cutting-edge care, while the remaining $1.25 million will support research on both COVID as well as longer-term solutions to pandemic diseases.

COLORADO

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Denver, CO | $1 Million

Bonfils-Stanton Foundation and the Denver Foundation have launched a COVID-19 Arts & Culture Relief Fund with commitments of $1 million and $50,000, respectively. To be administered by the Denver Foundation, the fund is aimed at helping small and midsize arts and culture organizations in the Denver area survive the public health crisis. Other early contributors to the fund include Denver Arts & Venues ($205,000), the Gates Family Foundation ($100,000), and PNC ($10,000).

Morgridge Family Foundation, Denver, CO | $1 Million

The Morgridge Family Foundation has announced a second commitment of $1 million in emergency relief funding for nonprofits working to address the impacts of the coronavirus on vulnerable populations. A second round of grants will be awarded to fourteen community foundations and United Way partners, which will regrant the funds to a hundred and fifteen local nonprofits.

CONNECTICUT

Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation, Stamford, CT | $1 Million

The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation has pledged to match donations up to $1 million in support of efforts at Norwalk Hospital to care for COVID-19 patients and to boost the hospital's emergency preparedness. Donations will be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis through September.

FLORIDA

Bailey Family Foundation, Tampa, FL | $350,000

Tampa General Hospital has announced a $350,000 gift from the Bailey Family Foundation in support of its COVID-19 response. The funds will help pay for testing supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other virus-related equipment as the hospital prepares for long-term care needs related to COVID-19 and other emerging infectious diseases.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Venice, FL; Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Sarasota, FL | $2.7 Million

The Gulf Coast Community Foundation, in partnership with the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, has announced grants totaling $2.7 million in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts in the region. Grants totaling $1.1 million were awarded through the COVID-19 Response Initiative, a joint effort of the two foundations, to nonprofits providing virtual mental health counseling for children and veterans, child care for first responders, and emergency food and financial assistance for displaced hospitality workers, foster families, and others.

ILLINOIS

Multiple Foundations, Chicago, IL | $425,000

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation, in collaboration with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, Richard H. Driehaus, Polk Bros., and Field foundations and the Chicago Community Trust, has announced forty-eight grants totaling more than $425,000 to media organizations working to disseminate information about COVID-19. The collaborative Journalism Fund awarded grants of up to $10,000 to a number of local outlets, including TRiiBE, which engages African-American millennials online and via social media; Cicero Independiente, which is using Facebook to engage Spanish-speaking residents in Berwyn and Cicero; and South Side Drive magazine, which has been working to marshal and direct resources to the city's hard-hit South Shore community.

IOWA

Iowa West Foundation, Council Bluffs, IA | $500,000

The Iowa West Foundation has announced an additional commitment of $500,000 to the Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Fund, a partnership between IWF and the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation, boosting its total contribution to $1 million. Recent grant recipients include Boys and Girl Club of the Midlands ($25,000), the Council Bluffs Schools Foundation ($27,000), Lutheran Family Services ($25,000), and the Performing Arts & Education Association of Southwest Iowa ($5,430).

MARYLAND

Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Baltimore, MD | $7.5 Million

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has announced commitments totaling $6.5 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in the United States and Israel. The funding includes $4.5 million set aside for anticipated COVID response grants in Chicago, Hawaii, New York City, northeastern Pennsylvania, and San Francisco; $1 million to the newly formed COVID-19 Response Funding Collaborative of Greater Baltimore; and $2 million to nonprofits in Israel through a partnership with the Foundations of Bituach Le'umi, Israel's National Insurance Institute. The latest commitments boost to more than $11.5 million the foundation's COVID-19 emergency support for people experiencing poverty.

MINNESOTA

McKnight Foundation, Minneapolis, MN | $190,000

The McKnight Foundation has announced grants totaling $190,000 in support of communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Grants include $100,000 to the Headwaters Foundation for Justice for its Communities First Fund, which supports African Americans, Indigenous peoples, and other people of color impacted by growing social, political, and economic disparities, as well as organizations working to address increased xenophobia toward Asian Americans; $50,000 to the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation's Minnesota Homeless Fund, which supports efforts to increase shelter space and critical resources for people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity; and $40,000 to the Transforming Minnesota's Early Childhood Workforce, a statewide multi-sector coalition focused on increasing compensation, training, and resources for early childhood educators.

MISSISSIPPI

Women's Foundation of Mississippi, Jackson, MS | $55,000

The Women's Foundation of Mississippi has announced rapid response grants totaling $55,000 to nonprofits and programs focused on assisting vulnerable families and women, many of whom are essential workers, who were living at or below the poverty level before the public health emergency and have been disproportionately impacted by the virus. Eleven nonprofits received funding to provide PPE, mental health support, and wraparound services for students, including the Cary Christian Center, Hinds Community College, the Magnolia Medical Foundation, and the Mississippi Low-Income Childcare Initiative.

NEW JERSEY

Princeton Area Community Foundation, Lawrenceville, NJ | $50,000

The Princeton Area Community Foundation has announced that the Fund for Women and Girls, a field-of-interest fund at the foundation, has donated $50,000 to PACF's COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund to address urgent needs in Mercer County. To date, a total of $2.1 million has been raised for the fund, which is focused on supporting low-income families, single mothers, and children struggling with food insecurity, uncertain health care, and lost income as a result of the public health crisis.

NEW YORK

Clara Lionel Foundation, Brooklyn, NY | $3.2 Million

A group of funders led by Rihanna's Clara Lionel Foundation and Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey's #startsmall has committed $3.2 million in support of COVID-19 response efforts in Detroit and Flint, Michigan. The grants — some of which were matched by the Stadler Family Foundation, the David Rockefeller Fund, and the Sean Anderson Foundation — will fund comprehensive solutions ranging from food distribution and foster care to bail relief, temporary shelter, and social support services.

Grantmakers for Girls of Color, New York, NY | $1 Million

Grantmakers for Girls of Color has announced a $1 million commitment in support of efforts to address the impacts of the coronavirus on girls and gender-expansive youth of color. The Love Is Healing COVID-19 Response Fund will award grants of up to $25,000 to nonprofits and coalitions led by womxn or girls of color, with a focus on COVID-19-related advocacy and immediate mapping needs; economic and educational response strategies; interventions in support of systems impacting youth or survivors of gender-based violence; and preventive or responsive mental, physical, and emotional health strategies.

Edward W. Hazen Foundation, Brooklyn, NY | $2.8 Million

The Edward W. Hazen Foundation has announced that it is fast-tracking $2.8 million in grants to twenty-four nonprofits responding to the COVID-19 crisis in communities of color. Originally scheduled to be awarded this summer, the grants will support parent- and youth-led organizing efforts around issues such as equity in public school funding, ending the police presence and punitive discipline policies in schools, and securing affordable housing for low-income families. The grants are part of a nearly five-fold increase in funding compared with the foundation's spring 2019 docket.

Willem de Kooning Foundation, Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Cy Twombly Foundation, New York, NY; Teiger Foundation, Livingston, NJ | $1.25 Million

The Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Teiger, and Cy Twombly foundations have partnered to establish an emergency relief grant program to provide $1.25 million in cash assistance to workers in the visual arts in the tri-state area experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. To be administered by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), the fund will award one-time unrestricted grants of $2,000 to freelance, contract, or non-salaried archivists, art handlers, artist/photographer's assistants, catalogers, database specialists, digital assets specialists, image scanners/digitizers, and registrars.

Henry Luce Foundation, New York, NY | $3.1 Million

At its April meeting, the board of the Henry Luce Foundation awarded $3.1 million in emergency grants in support of fields and communities the foundation has long supported and approved requests to reallocate more than $1.75 million from existing project budgets for salary or general operating support at its grantee institutions. The twenty-three emergency grants include awards ranging between $60,000 and $250,000 to support staff salaries at small and midsize museums in Santa Fe, Tulsa, Portland (OR), Asheville, and Phoenix; a grant of $250,000 to the American Indian College Fund to enable instruction at tribal colleges to continue remotely during the pandemic; and grants of various sizes to emergency funds established by the Modern Language Association, the American Academy of Religion, and Xavier University in Louisiana. The foundation expects to award more emergency grants in May.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York, NY | $1.76 Million

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.76 million to sixteen historically black colleges and universities to help stabilize enrollments for the upcoming academic year. The grants of $110,000 per institution will be used to help students pay for their technology needs, ease financial strain due to tuition and housing costs, and pay for essential travel.

NORTH CAROLINA

Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, Greensboro, NC | $200,000

The Joseph M. Bryan Foundation has awarded $200,000 to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina in support of its COVID-19 relief efforts. The funds will be used to purchase six truckloads of food boxes for families and seniors in the greater Greensboro area. According to Second Harvest, local organizations that work with the food bank across eighteen counties are seeing increases of between 40 percent and 60 percent in the demand for food assistance.

Duke Endowment, Charlotte, North Carolina | $3.5 Million

The Duke Endowment has announced a $3.5 million grant to Feeding the Carolinas, a network of ten food banks serving more than thirty-seven hundred charities in North and South Carolina, in support of efforts to meet increased demand due to COVID-19. Due to declines in volunteers and retail donations as a result of the public health emergency, Feeding the Carolinas expects to spend between $1 million to $2 million a week on food purchases for the next six to eight weeks.

PENNSYLVANIA

Heinz Endowments, Pittsburgh, PA | $2.3 Million

The Heinz Endowments has announced a second round of emergency grants totaling more than $2.3 million to Pittsburgh-area nonprofits working to protect the health of frontline workers and address the basic needs of vulnerable families and individuals. Part of a special $5 million emergency fund approved by the endowments' board in response to urgent community needs resulting from the pandemic, the awards include three grants totaling $610,000 for the purchase of laptops for students who do not have access to computer technology; $250,000 to Allegheny Health Network in support of mobile COVID-19 testing units in underserved communities; and $250,000 to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia, PA | $6.8 Million

The Pew Charitable Trusts has announced grants totaling $6.8 million over three years in support of thirty-eight nonprofits serving vulnerable adults in the region whose needs have been exacerbated by the public health emergency. Grants were focused in three areas: helping adults who are experiencing homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, and those with significant behavioral health or substance use issues achieve independence and stability in their lives; helping those with limited work skills obtain employment; and using evidence-informed approaches to improve behavioral health outcomes.

Presser Foundation, Philadelphia, PA | $1.3 Million

The Presser Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.3 million to eighty-five music organizations in the greater Philadelphia area, including $521,250 in general operating support grants aimed at helping the organizations weather the COVID-19 emergency. Recipients include the Academy of Vocal Arts, the Chester Children's Chorus, Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts, and Trenton Music Makers. The remaining $795,000 will support capital projects at music-presenting, -performing, and -education organizations.

TEXAS

Episcopal Health Foundation, Houston, TX | $11.6 Million

The Episcopal Health Foundation has announced a $10 million plan to help address the long-term impact of COVID-19, including a grant program, an emergency loan fund, and a research project. The grant program will help current grantees and partners continue their operations during the public health emergency, with a focus on those directly involved in COVID-19 response and serving disproportionately affected populations, while the loan fund will offer two-year zero-interest loans of up to $1 million. The foundation also announced a first round of grants totaling $1.6 million from a previously announced $10 million commitment to address the long-term impacts of the coronavirus. Grants were awarded to twenty-three current grantees, including nonprofit clinics and organizations serving low-income Texans, behavioral and mental health organizations, rural health centers, nonprofits assisting with enrollment in health and other benefit programs, and groups working in the area of early-childhood brain development.

George Foundation, Richmond, TX | $1.3 Million

The George Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.3 million in support of nonprofits serving Fort Bend County residents impacted by COVID-19. The total includes $195,500 to help fifty organizations continue serving their communities while observing social distancing guidelines and more than $1.1 million to twenty nonprofits providing critical services, with a focus on meeting the increase in basic needs, including food assistance and rent and utilities assistance.

Kinder Foundation, Dallas, TX | $1 Million

The Houston Food Bank has announced a $1 million grant from the Kinder Foundation to help feed families impacted by the coronavirus. As a result of job and income losses caused by the virus, the food bank has had to ramp up distribution to between 150 percent and 200 percent of pre-pandemic levels, or between seven hundred and fifty thousand and a million pounds of food a day.

Moody Foundation, Dallas, TX | $1.475 Million

The Moody Foundation has announced a second round of grants totaling $1.475 million in support of nonprofits providing food, shelter, PPE, computers, rent assistance, employment, education, and physical and mental health services across Texas. Grants include $675,000 in support of nine Dallas-area organizations; $500,000 to eighteen nonprofits in Austin, Georgetown, Round Rock, Fredericksburg, San Marcos, and Marfa; and $300,000 in support of the City of Galveston and four Galveston County organizations. In March, the foundation awarded a first round of COVID-related grants totaling $1 million in support of Austin-area nonprofits.

WISCONSIN

Bader Philanthropies, Milwaukee, WI | $1.4 Million

And Bader Philanthropies has awarded grants totaling $1.4 million to nonprofits in southeastern Wisconsin providing on-the-ground services in response to COVID-19, the BizTimes reports. Recipients include crisis resource center IMPACT, which is using its $100,000 to add three employees; 4th Dimension Sobriety; Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin; Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers; and the Parenting Network.

_______

"Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Continues Rapid Response to COVID-19 Crisis With Additional $2.9 Million in Emergency Grants." Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Press Release 04/29/2020.

"New Single-Cell Technologies Help Scientists Understand COVID-19 Disease Progression." Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Press Release 05/08/2020.

"Hewlett Foundation Awards $10 Million to Silicon Valley Community Foundation for Bay Area COVID-19 Relief." William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Press Release 05/07/2020.

"Our First Steps to Deploy More Than $3 Million in Immediate Response." Imaginable Futures Blog Post 05/05/2020.

"ADL Receives $1 Million Grant from Craig Newmark Philanthropies to Detect and Measure Online Hate Speech." Anti-Defamation League Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Roddenberry Foundation Donates $1 Million to Support Gladstone COVID-19 Research." Gladstone Institutes Press Release 05/08/2020.

"Rosenberg Foundation Announces COVID Related Rapid Response Grants to Fight Mass Incarceration and Protect Immigrant and Farmworker Rights." Rosenberg Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"Tu Foundation Gives $2.5 Million to UCI to Support COVID-19 Patient Care, Research." University of California, Irvine Press Release 05/11/2020.

"The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation Pledges $1 Million to Match Community Donations for Emergency Needs at Norwalk Hospital." Norwalk Hospital Press Release 05/07/2020.

"Emergency Fund for Denver Arts & Culture Organizations Established; Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Donates $1 Million to Cause." Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Press Release 05/04/2020.

"The Morgridge Family Foundation Provides an Additional $1 Million in Emergency Relief Funding." Morgridge Family Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"The Bailey Family Foundation Donates to Tampa General Hospital Amid COVID-19." Tampa General Hospital Press Release 05/06/2020.

"$2.7 Million in Direct Grants to Nonprofits for COVID-19 Relief." Gulf Coast Community Foundation Press Release 05/06/2020.

"New Journalism Fund Supporting Nearly 50 Local Media Organizations Providing Information About Covid-19 To Chicagoland Communities." Robert R. McCormick Foundation Press Release 05/07/2020.

"IWF Commits Another $500,000 to SWI COVID-19 Fund." Iowa West Foundation Press Release 04/03/2020.

"Total Foundation Emergency Support for Nonprofit Partners Now Exceeds $10.5 Million." Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation 04/30/2020.

"Weinberg Foundation Commits Additional $1 Million to Israeli Nonprofits as Part of COVID-19 Response." Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"More Covid-19 Response Grants and a New Video Highlighting Bright Spots." McKnight Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"WFM Awards $55k in Rapid Response Grants." Women's Foundation of Mississippi 04/30/2020.

"Fund for Women and Girls Donates $50,000 to Princeton Area Community Foundation Relief & Recovery Fund." Princeton Area Community Foundation 04/30/2020.

"CLF Leads Additional COVID-19 Response Efforts in Michigan." Clara Lionel Foundation Press Release 05/07/2020.

"Grantmakers for Girls of Color Announces $1 Million to Address Immediate Impacts of COVID-19 on Girls and Gender Expansive Youth of Color." Grantmakers for Girls of Color Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Edward W. Hazen Foundation Fast Tracks $2.8 Million in Grants to Support Grantees Responding to Covid-19 Pandemic in Communities of Color."

"Tri-State Relief Fund to Support Non-Salaried Workers in the Visual Arts." New York Foundation for the Arts Press Release 04/28/2020.

"Luce Foundation Makes $3M in Emergency Grants to Support Communities and Organizations Affected by COVID-19."Henry Luce Foundation Press Release 05/12/2020.

"$1.76 Million in Emergency Grants Distributed to 16 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic." Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"The Duke Endowment Awards $3.5 Million to Feeding the Carolinas." Duke Endowment Press Release 05/12/2020.

"Second Harvest Food Bank Receives $200,000 Donation From the Bryan Foundation." Winston-Salem Journal 04/30/2020.

"Heinz Endowments Announces Further $2.3 Million in Emergency Funding to Combat COVID-19 Crisis." Heinz Endowments Press Release 04/30/2020.

"Pew Announces $6.8M in Grants Supporting Philadelphia Region's Vulnerable Adults." Pew Charitable Trusts Press Release 05/04/2020.

"The Presser Foundation Announces Over $1.3 Million in a Special Round of General Operating and Capital Support Grants to Music Organizations." Presser Foundation Press Release 04/29/2020.

"Episcopal Health Foundation Targets Long-Term Focus in $10 Million COVID-19 Response Plan." Episcopal Health Foundation Press Release 04/28/2020.

"Episcopal Health Foundation Announces $1.6 Million in Grants During First Round of Funding for COVID-19 Response in Texas." Episcopal Health Foundation Press Release 05/13/2020.

"Messages on COVID-19." George Foundation Press Release 05/04/2020.

"Kinder Foundation Gifts $1 Million to Houston Food Bank to Feed Houstonians Impacted by COVID-19." Houston Food Bank Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Moody Foundation Commits Additional $300K to Galveston County COVID-19 Relief." Moody Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Moody Foundation Commits Additional $500K to Dallas-Area COVID-19 Relief." Moody Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Moody Foundation Commits Additional $675K to Dallas-Area COVID-19 Relief." Moody Foundation Press Release 05/05/2020.

"Bader Philanthropies Distributes $1.4 Million in Emergency Funding for Nonprofits." BizTimes 04/28/2020.

The Reinvention of the Nonprofit

May 14, 2020

Communications_treeLike many of you, I've learned new ways of doing things over the last month and half. For instance, I have:

  • participated in a virtual board meeting with a nonprofit that, pre-pandemic, would not allow board members to call in to board meetings — a significant obstacle to participation for me and many of my fellow board members;
  • attended a virtual event for a nonprofit I support;
  • toured a museum gallery (virtually, of course); and
  • designed a new movement strategy with a tech team for an organization seeking to move in-person engagements to a virtual model. 

Some of these innovations had been on the back burner for some time at the organizations in question. But they hadn't been operationalized because nothing at the organization or in its operating environment was forcing a change in the organizational mindset. Even when pitched by bright, forward-thinking staff, innovative ideas were often shelved in favor of more pressing  programmatic needs and strategies. 

Then COVID-19 happened, and, like that, everything changed. Ideas that sounded good but didn't seem necessary a year or two ago were suddenly thrust to the forefront. Almost overnight, the attitude of nonprofits shifted from "Let's not rock the boat" to "What can we do to keep ourselves afloat and/or make a difference, and how fast can we do it?"  

While there is never a bright side to a pandemic, it's true what many pundit-types have said: crises tend to accelerate trends that were already in place, and things that seem new and innovative today are likely to be widely embraced and taken for granted before you know it. 

That said, let me add a note of caution: nonprofits' embrace of innovation and technology should not merely be focused on substitution — Zoom events for in-person events, for instance — but should aim instead to develop entirely new experiences. They should expand the engagement we already have with our constituents and supporters, giving them more ways to be a part of our work and to keep that work relevant and impactful for even more people. 

I was reminded of that recently by three conversations I had with funders about a virtual conference I created ten years ago. MCON, the Millennial Impact Conference, was a day-long virtual event sponsored by the Case Foundation to bring together individuals in the nonprofit sector who were starting to focus their engagement efforts on the huge, rising millennial cohort. The convening was the signature event of a larger initiative, the Millennial Impact Project, a decade-long research effort designed to help nonprofits, causes, and companies engage what was then America's largest and youngest adult generation.

People signed on to that first event in 2010 not really knowing what to expect — and neither did we. As it turned out, some twenty-five hundred people attended (virtually), an astonishing number as far as we were concerned, having no benchmarks against which to measure. And when it was over, we heard from dozens, if not hundreds, of attendees who, while they might have had a hard time articulating why, simply loved it. "I don't know…you just had to experience it," was a common refrain. In the years that followed, attendance at MCON continued to build, peaking at twenty thousand for the 2018 event, at which point we sunsetted the initiative and the event.

What the three funders I spoke to wanted to know was how we managed to create a virtual conference before people really knew what a virtual conference was. And my answer was simple: when we created MCON, we didn't try to replicate something that already existed. We came up with a model for what we hoped to achieve, and then refined it. It was never intended to replace an in-person gathering; instead, we created a standalone experience through which guest speakers from across the country and many different industries and disciplines could share their research and knowledge and, crucially, interact with attendees in new and different ways. 

Virtual events shouldn't be about forcing grantees, constituents, or supporters to make a choice between engaging virtually or in-person. They should be about creating something new. In my experience, that means they should be shorter and move more quickly, be peppered with stimulating visuals, and feature plenty of opportunities to engage with both presenters and other attendees in short bursts. Don't expect see a lot of backroom networking, as you would at an offline event. And don't worry, that's okay! Use the opportunity to ask the most creative members on your staff to create something special that serves not as a replacement for the event that would've been but as a unique complement to your usual communications/fundraising/marketing efforts. 

Of course, every cause and nonprofit will have to decide for itself how to do that. That  said, here are some things for you to keep in mind as you look to innovate and start to plan to bring back your in-person events/programs:

  • A virtual event is just a new way to move constituents and supporters from point A to point B.
  • Your event should focus on new and different opportunities for constituents and supporters to engage with your organization or cause.
  • Adopt a digital perspective focused on delivering experiences and helping attendees learn things, in real time, that wouldn't be possible in an offline setting.
  • Think "small," and use the tools at your disposal to let your virtual attendees drive the bus. 
  • Create small breakout groups for each main content block to make it easier for attendees to compare notes, share ideas, and meet new people.

I urge causes and nonprofits to refrain from returning to business as usual after this crisis is over (and who knows when that might be). What you are learning and doing today to reach constituents and supporters absolutely must inform your future communications/fundraising/marketing efforts. As a wise person once said, never let a crisis go to waste. Good luck and stay safe!

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the author of Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change, the founder of the Millennial Impact Project, and lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence.

Overcoming Founder’s Syndrome on the Road to Success

May 08, 2020

BatonPicture this: An organization's founder has been in place for decades. They are well-respected for their years of hard work and are credited with driving the organization’s long-term success. They've been in the position for so long, in fact, that people outside the organization can't imagine it existing without them. So when they announce their imminent retirement, the board and staff are paralyzed by the notion of bringing in someone new.

The mere thought of a major leadership transition can be frightening, and unless a successor is obvious, beginning the process of finding a replacement for a long-tenured executive can feel overwhelming. Indeed, in many cases, the initial reaction is to look for the same type of leader as the person who is leaving.

As millions of boomers near retirement age, this scenario is playing out in organizations nationwide. According to TSNE MissionWorks, 68 percent of executive directors and 66 percent of board chairs are over the age 50 and, in many cases, are beginning to think about retirement. In other words, thousands, if not tens of thousands, of nonprofits are facing the prospect of losing their long-serving founders, CEOs, presidents, and executive directors.

When an organization is faced with replacing a long-time leader who has been in place for so long that board and staff cannot remember his or her predecessor, identifying a new leader can seem like a hopeless task. That task is even more complicated when the founding ED or long-serving executive is having a difficult time imagining the organization carrying on successfully without her. Often, this confluence of circumstances results in the phenomenon known as "founder's syndrome," a situation in which an organization’s funding, capacity, and overall well-being seem to be largely dependent on her efforts, causing stakeholders to be uneasy about the prospect of her leaving or, in the worst-case situation, a founder resistant to turning over the reins to a successor. In many such cases, people cannot imagine how the organization will find its next leader because their image of the current leader is fixed.

For these and other reasons, a successful search for a new leader hinges on board members first recognizing that founder's syndrome is a factor in the planned transition. Indeed, if the transition to a new leader is planned carefully and strategically, it's possible to reframe founder's syndrome as an opportunity for the board to honor the founding leader's legacy while simultaneously positioning the next leader for success.

To ensure that the transition to a new leader is successful, the organization’s board and leadership team should pay attention to the following:

Be clear about your expectations. What are your goals and priorities for the next leader? Do you expect her to boost fundraising, help the organization close a deficit, create a better operational model, increase the diversity of staff, strengthen the endowment? What parts of your organization's identity do you want to retain and which parts need to evolve? What are your leadership needs and what should leadership for the organization over the next five to ten years look like?

Avoid 'Founder 2.0'. When an organization's mission is so tied to a founder’s vision, it can be difficult to imagine someone different in that role. In many cases, board and executive team members who have worked closely with the founder often want to replace him or her with exactly same type of leader. The fact is, however, that organizations need different kinds of leaders at different moments in their evolution. The leadership qualities that may have been critical at the earlier stages of an organization's development may not be as necessary or even appropriate a decade or more down the road. Just as children outgrow their favorite clothes and toys and seek new and different stimuli as they mature, organizations also evolve in terms of what they need from a leader. A "start-up" situation encourages people to wear multiple hats and be entrepreneurial. At a later point in an organization’s evolution, more formal systems and roles often are required in order to make sure everyone is on the same page and pulling in the same direction. Organizations naturally tend to move from a "crawling and toddling" stage, to an "awkward adolescence," to a more mature stage of growth and development. Organizations therefore ought to assess the stage they’re currently in, their future goals and where they hope to be in five or ten years, and the kind of leader that is most likely to get them there. Remember: Change is your friend and can be a valuable driver in ensuring that an organization continues to be successful.

Fix up the house. Longtime homeowners are familiar with the joys of deferred maintenance. If you've owned a house for a while, you're probably surrounded by things that are broken or not working as well as they used to, but you've put up with them because you're too busy — or it’s too expensive — to fix them. But small inconveniences and annoyances add up over time, and at a certain point you realize that things have slipped a bit too much and it's time to address those longstanding issues. The same holds true for a long-time leader. When a leader has been in place for a long time, he has likely settled into certain routines and grown comfortable with systems and processes that generally work well but could use some updating. If the founder is a naturally creative type, for instance, he may have overlooked some of the finer details of revenue recognition and financial planning. Or he might be wonderful at engaging external stakeholders but less adept at hiring and managing a senior management team. In such cases, a transition to a new leader should be viewed as an opportunity to repair what may be broken.

Embrace a fresh vision. Even when the board and staff are pleased with the job the founder-leader has done, there almost always are things that can be built off his or her legacy. It's important to recognize that longtime leaders and the organizations they lead can become less adaptable to change — and more susceptible to inertia — over time, which in turn can prevent them from evolving and realizing their full potential. Transitioning to someone who brings fresh ideas, energy, and perspective to the work can help an organization and the people who make it go see themselves in a new way.

Talk to the team. In any leadership transition, it's important to have honest conversations with the board, senior management, and staff at all levels about what's working and what needs to be fixed. With a new leader at the helm, what might the organization look like in five years? And what can the board, senior management, and staff do to ensure that the new leader, and the organization, succeeds?

Encourage a graceful exit. As a general rule, founders shouldn't have an active role in the organization (or on its board) immediately after they've stepped down. More often than not, the continued involvement of a founder creates awkwardness and makes it difficult for a successor to operate. In addition, most qualified candidates for the job will not to want hear that, should they get the job, they'll be managing a founder-leader -- a prospect that can deter even the most determined applicant. Last but not least, it can be confusing and unsettling for staff to have a founder hanging around as a new leader is trying to establish herself. Whom should they go to turn to for direction and advice — the person who has led the organization for years or the new person? At best, it can create a divided sense of loyalty among staff, while at worst…

Expect things to get emotional. Understand that the board and staff may have harbored tremendous affection for the person who is leaving and could have a visceral reaction to his or her departure. It's human nature to want stability and resist change, and any transition involving a beloved and long-serving leader can be difficult to process emotionally. In addition, many employees, fearing the unknown, will feel anxious that the new leader will want to build a new team and/or make significant changes.

Use an outside consultant. Unless an organization already has a successor in mind, the board and staff may not know how to manage a transition from a founder or long-serving leader to someone new — or even where to begin the search process for a successor. An outside recruiter from an executive search firm can be an invaluable addition to the search team and bring a fresh (and objective) perspective to the table. As part of her job, the consultant will conduct due diligence, talking to the board, key staff members, and other stakeholders and constituents to determine what type of leadership is needed and appropriate in terms of the organization's next chapter. In some instances, having an interim leader in place while a search is under way can give the search team time and distance to orient itself to the needs and requirements of the future.

Honor the founder's legacy. It's important that the organization, led by the board, acknowledges and celebrates the founder's legacy and accomplishments in a meaningful, memorable way. Allowing time and space for her to take a final "victory lap," a series of events over the course of several months or even up to a year, will put a well-deserved spotlight on the departing leader and help her ease into a new role as an eminence grise rather than the top executive.

When a founder steps down, you shouldn’t worry about how his or her shoes will be filled. Instead, focus your efforts on identifying and recruiting a talented new leader to replace the departing founder and then do everything you can to help him or her lead the organization forward to an even brighter and more successful future.

Headshot_Naree Viner_KoyaNaree W.S. Viner, managing director at Koya Leadership Partners, has deep experience in executive recruiting and has partnered closely with board members at public and private organizations to identify, develop, and recruit executive talent, including chief executives and senior team members.

Corporations Ramp Up Support for COVID-19 Response Efforts (April 16-30, 2020)

May 03, 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.

Activision Blizzard, Kingston Technology, and donors including Richard Scudamore and Julia and George Argyros have donated more than $5 million to the Hoag Hospital Foundation in Newport Beach, California, in support of COVID-related clinical trials, additional protective equipment, and emerging areas of need.

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has announced an initial donation of high-performance computing (HPC) systems valued at $15 million to research institutions working to accelerate medical research on COVID-19 and other diseases. The company also announced donations totaling more than $1 million to the Chinese Red Cross Foundation, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Austin Community Foundation, and local organizations in Canada, India, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Aflac has announced donations totaling $5 million to organizations assisting healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Contributions include $2 million to the Global Center for Medical Innovation, which is using 3D printing to help address shortages of medical equipment such as ventilators and protective masks, and $3 million to Direct Relief, which is providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential medical supplies to health workers in all fifty states.

Albertsons in Boise, Idaho, has announced a $50 million commitment in support of hunger relief efforts in the District of Columbia and thirty-four states where it operates supermarkets. Through its Nourishing Neighbors Community Relief campaign, the company will work with local nonprofits to help keep food banks stocked and able to respond to increased demand, support school-based emergency meal distribution programs, and bolster meal and food distribution programs for seniors.

As part of its $4 million commitment in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in California, Anthem Blue Cross has announced grants totaling $200,000 to United Way and Feeding America. The funds will support food banks, shelters, and other resource centers that are helping individuals and families with basic needs

Direct Relief has announced a donation of three million surgical masks from AstraZeneca to U.S. health workers on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Direct Relief will distribute most of the level 1 surgical masks to health facilities in areas with the most pressing need, with a portion to be directed to emergency management agencies in states where AstraZeneca has a significant presence.

The Blue Shield of California Foundation has announced grants totaling $6.8 million in support of efforts to address economic hardships caused by the spread of the virus, a spike in domestic violence, and the need for accurate, accessible virus-related information in multiple languages. Recipients include the Asian Pacific Fund ($100,000), the California Community Foundation ($500,000), Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees ($1 million), and the Women's Foundation of California ($1.45 million).

Cargill is offering its headquarters' cafeteria so that Minnesota Central Kitchen can expand its operations. The additional kitchen space will allow the nonprofit to provide employment to laid-off workers and four thousand meals a week to Minnesotans in need. The Cargill Foundation also has donated $1 million to add a distribution site in North Minneapolis with Appetite for Change and support the production of a hundred and twenty thousand meals across MCK sites.

Cisco is supporting #FirstRespondersFirst, an initiative of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global, and the CAA Foundation aimed at providing essential protective equipment, accommodations, child care, food, mental health support, and other resources to frontline healthcare workers, Thrive Global reports. To that end, Cisco is opening a childcare center on its San Jose headquarters campus to the children of first responders and is funding three additional centers in Cary, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas; and Birmingham, Alabama.

To support underserved individuals impacted by the public health emergency in New York State, the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation has announced $2 million in unrestricted grants to community-based organizations providing healthcare services to persons of all ages, regardless of their ability to pay, as well as food banks and other nonprofits that provide critical services to home-bound seniors.

Dow has announced grants totaling $500,000 from the Dow Company Foundation in support of community foundations and economic development corporations in Midland, Bay, Isabella, and Saginaw counties in Michigan. The funds will support the rapid deployment of resources to address critical needs arising from the public health emergency, including support for frontline workers, small businesses, and nonprofits providing food and care for children.

The Duke Energy Foundation has announced grants totaling more than $340,000 to South Carolina K-12 education programs focused on summer reading loss, STEM instruction, and experiential learning programs that have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Recipients include Children's Museum of the Upstate ($20,000), Girl Scouts of South Carolina ($20,000), South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics ($18,000), and United Way of Pickens County ($25,000). The foundation also awarded a total of $80,000 in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in the greater Cincinnati area — grants of $5,000 each to six hospitals and $25,000 each to the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky.

St. Louis-based Edward Jones has announced commitments totaling $2.7 million in support of local, regional, and national efforts to address immediate needs in communities impacted by the coronavirus. Grant recipients include the American Red Cross, the St. Louis COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, and five local hospital systems.

Madison County Schools in Huntsville, Alabama, has announced a donation of $939,000 from Facebook to help provide every student in the district with an Internet-enabled device and Internet connectivity. The gift includes funding to install mobile WiFi on school buses and extend the range of WiFi access points at schools so students can connect to remote learning tools from more locations. Facebook opened a data center in Huntsville in 2018.

The Figgers Foundation, the charitable arm of African American-owned telecommunications firm Figgers Communications, is donating approximately seven hundred thousand units of personal protection equipment (PPE) — surgical masks, N95 masks, face shields, and hazmat protective coveralls — to hospitals and healthcare workers in coronavirus hotspots, including California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington.

Americares, with support from the GE Foundation, which helped source masks from its supplier in China, has announced it will be distributing more than 1.4 million protective masks to health workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response in eleven states and Puerto Rico. The Medtronic Foundation and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation also provided support for the purchase and distribution of the personal protective equipment.

Heinz has announced a $1 million commitment to help cover rent and operating costs for independently owned diners impacted by closures due to COVID-19. The company will award grants of $2,000 to five hundred eligible diners nominated by the public through May 31 at https://www.heinzfordiners.com.

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas has announced pledges totaling $1 million to its Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund from the Kimberly-Clark Foundation and former Kimberly-Clark executive chair Tom Falk and his wife, Karen. The contributions of $500,000 each from the foundation and the Falks, co-chairs of the United Way's 2019-20 campaign, boosts to $6.3 million the total raised for the fund, which has awarded more than $2 million to date to nearly a hundred and fifty community-based organizations.

In partnership with Project N95, the KIND Foundation has announced a $1 million commitment to launch the Frontline Impact Project, a platform where healthcare organizations and other frontline responders can request help to meet their greatest needs. While Project N95 has focused on performing supply chain diligence and securing PPE for health workers, the new partnership will enable thousands of healthcare facilities in the Project N95 network to request donations in the areas of nourishment, lodging, and transportation.

The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation has announced the creation of a $10 million Emergency COVID-19 Response Fund to help families disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Since March, the foundation has pledged more than $6 million to Feeding America, No Kid Hungry, Meals on Wheels America, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation's COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, Sunshine Division's Emergency Food Box Program, Benefits Data Trust, and other nonprofits.

Liberty Mutual Insurance has announced an additional commitment of $10 million to frontline organizations in Boston treating COVID-19 patients and/or providing food and shelter to vulnerable individuals and populations, including low-income and homeless families. Initial grants of $1 million each were awarded to Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Boston Medical Center, and Pine Street Inn, while grants of $500,000 were awarded to Friends of Boston's Homeless, St. Francis House, and the Greater Boston Food Bank. In March, Liberty Mutual announced grants totaling $5 million in support of four hundred and fifty nonprofit partners and the Boston Resiliency Fund.

The MetLife Foundation has announced grants totaling $1 million in support of COVID-19 relief efforts in New York City as part of a $25 million commitment in support of global efforts in response to the pandemic. Grants in this round were awarded to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation ($200,000), the Children's Health Fund ($150,000), Hot Bread Kitchen ($150,000), and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation ($500,000).

The Patient Safety Movement Foundation has announced a $5 million grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation, and Competition in Healthcare to expand its efforts to drive awareness and adoption of patient safety processes during the public health emergency.

The PGA of America has announced the launch of a Golf Emergency Relief Fund to provide short-term financial assistance to workers in the golf industry who are facing significant financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. The association has pledged $5 million and a matching fund for donations up to $2.5 million.

PPG and the PPG Foundation have announced grants totaling more than $1.5 million in support of community relief efforts and emerging recovery needs created by the public health crisis, in the Pittsburgh region and elsewhere. Grants include $520,000 in support of local organizations serving those most at risk in PPG communities across the globe; $375,000 to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; $275,000 to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Emergency Action Fund at the Pittsburgh Foundation; and $150,000 to Feeding America.

The PSEG Foundation in Newark, New Jersey, has announced commitments totaling $2.5 million for COVID-19 relief efforts, including a $1 million donation to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. In coming months, the foundation will award grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 to regional nonprofits such as food banks and health and social services organizations working to support those impacted medically, socially, and/or economically by the coronavirus.

Publix has announced an initiative to purchase fresh produce and milk from Florida produce farmers and dairy farmers in the Southeast impacted by COVID-related closures and donate those products to Feeding America member food banks in communities where the company operates. Launched in response to numerous reports of farmers discarding produce and milk they can't sell — mostly as a result of school, restaurant, and hotel closures — the initiative is expected to run for several weeks.

Sam's Club has announced a $1 million donation to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in support of efforts to help small businesses impacted by the economic fallout from the spread of COVID-19. The donation will fund emergency grants of $10,000 awarded through the LISC Rapid Relief and Resiliency Fund, with priority given to small businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, and other underserved populations.

The S&P Global Foundation has announced a second and final round of grants from its initial $2 million commitment in support of the global response to the pandemic, with a focus on addressing food security and healthcare needs in India, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Grants also were awarded to Project HOPE, the New York State COVID-19 First Responders Fund, the New York City Police Foundation, and the New York City Fire Department Foundation. In addition, the S&P Global Foundation announced a new commitment of $2 million in support of small businesses; grantees include Accion International, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Save Small Business Fund, and MicroMentor.

The Siemens Foundation has announced grants totaling $1.5 million to community health centers in twelve U.S. cities struggling to provide affordable health care to the uninsured and medically underserved. Grant recipients include Chase Brexton Health Services (Baltimore), Daughters of Charity Services/Marillac Community Health Center (New Orleans), International Community Health Services (Seattle), Mary's Center for Maternal and Child Health Care (Washington, D.C.), Newark Community Health Centers (Newark), STRIDE Community Health Center (Denver), Watts Healthcare Corporation (Los Angeles), and Western Wayne Family Health Centers (Detroit).

Stanley Black & Decker has announced a commitment of more than $10 million to address impacts of the coronavirus. Financial commitments include $4 million to NGOs working on the front lines of the pandemic globally, $5 million for a COVID-19 employee emergency relief fund, and a doubling of its match for employee donations to the relief fund or a charity of their choice. The company also will purchase three million face masks as well as other PPE for healthcare workers and first responders in the communities where it operates.

The State Employee Credit Union and the SECU Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina, have announced a $10 million commitment in support of COVID-19 relief efforts across the state. Contributions of $5 million each from SECU and its foundation will support nonprofits working to meet food, clothing, shelter, and financial assistance needs, as well as frontline medical providers working to help the most vulnerable North Carolinians during the public health emergency.

The United Health Foundation has announced a $5 million partnership with the AARP Foundation aimed at supporting low-income older Americans during the public health emergency. Part of UnitedHealth Group's $70 million commitment in support of COVID-19 relief and response efforts, the collaboration will address social isolation and food insecurity among seniors by connecting them with emergency food services and expanding AARP Foundation's Connect2Affect platform, which is designed to reduce social isolation and promote greater connection among seniors.

The UnitedHealth Group has announced commitments totaling $10 million in support of frontline healthcare workers and efforts to develop convalescent plasma treatments for COVID-19. Commitments of $2 million each from the United Health Foundation to the CDC Foundation and Direct Relief and $1 million to the American Nurses Foundation will fund the purchase of PPE for community health centers and free and mobile clinics across the United States, as well as the creation of a virtual system designed to promote nurses' mental well-being and resilience and recognize their contributions to the fight against the virus. The foundation also pledged $5 million for a federally sponsored program led by the Mayo Clinic aimed at coordinating efforts to collect plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 and distribute it to hospitalized patients with severe or life-threatening infections.

The United States Tennis Association has announced commitments totaling $50 million to support the U.S. tennis industry as it struggles with the economic fallout from the coronavirus. Assistance programs include the continuation of "grow the game" funding commitments of $35 million to community tennis programming in 2020 and 2021; more than $5 million to help facilities in need of financial support reopen; $2.5 million in membership grants; more than $5 million in grants and scholarships to grassroots tennis and education organizations supporting underserved communities through the National Junior Tennis and Learning network; and free online continuing professional development for facility owners and managers and tennis professionals.

The UPS Foundation has announced a commitment of $15 million in support of global COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts in the areas of health care, education, financial sustainability, and food security. An initial $1 million in funding will help provide immediate relief in the United States; grantees include Family Scholar House in Louisville, Kentucky; United Way of New York City; Ramsey Responds in Ramsey, New Jersey; and the Tarrant Area Food Bank in Fort Worth, Texas.

We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service — part of the WEC Energy Group — have announced commitments totaling $1 million in support of nonprofits working to address the spread of COVID-19 and its impacts. Grants will be awarded through the We Energies Foundation and WPS Foundation to hospitals, first responders, and food pantries.

And the National Institutes of Health and Foundation for the NIH have announced the launch of the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) partnership. With input from both public and private stakeholders, the partnership will work to develop a framework for prioritizing COVID-19 vaccine and drug candidates, streamline clinical trials, coordinate regulatory processes, and leverage assets to accelerate the scientific response to the coronavirus. Government agency partners in the effort include the Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the European Medicines Agency, while participating industry partners include AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, Evotec, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, KSQ Therapeutics, Eli Lilly and Company, Merck & Co., Novartis, Pfizer, Roche,Sanofi, Takeda, and Vir Biotechnology.

_______

"Hoag Donors Contribute More Than $5 Million to Date to Support Hoag’s COVID-19 Response and Research." Hoag Hospital Foundation 04/20/2020.

"Shared Resilience: Update to AMD COVID-19 Response." AMD Press Release 04/15/2020.

"Aflac Incorporated Donates $5 Million as Part of Company's Overall COVID-19 Pandemic Response." Aflac Press Release 04/14/2020.

"Albertsons Companies Commits Additional $50 Million to Community Hunger Relief in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic." Albertsons Companies Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Anthem Blue Cross Donations to Feeding America and United Way Continue Supporting COVID-19 Relief in California." Anthem Blue Cross Press Release 04/21/2020.

"AstraZeneca Donates 3 Million Surgical Masks to Direct Relief for Covid-19 Supply Needs in the US." Direct Relief Press Release.

"Blue Shield of California Foundation Commits $6.8 Million to Support Californians Hit Hardest by the COVID-19 Pandemic." Blue Shield of California Foundation Press Release 04/15/2020.

"Cargill Foundation Supports MN Central Kitchen, Minnesota Nonprofit and Restaurant Community Tackles Hunger." Cargill Foundation Press Release 04/13/2020.

"Cisco Supports #FirstRespondersFirst to Open Four Bright Horizons Centers to Provide Free Child Care for Frontline Healthcare Workers." Thrive Global Press Release 04/21/2020.

Delta Dental Community Care Foundation Pledges $2 Million in Funding to Support New York State Organizations Responding to COVID-19." Delta Dental Community Care Foundation 04/21/2020.

"Dow Commits $500,000 to Aid Great Lakes Bay Region COVID-19 Relief Efforts." Dow Press Release 04/09/2020.

"Duke Energy Foundation Awards Additional $80,000 to Greater Cincinnati Area Hospitals, Nonprofit Organizations to Respond to Pandemic." Duke Energy Press Release 04/23/2020.

"Duke Energy Foundation Provides More Than $340,000 to South Carolina K-12 Education Organizations During COVID-19 Crisis." Duke Energy Press Release 04/21/2020.

"Edward Jones Commits Support for Communities in Response to COVID-19." Edward Jones Press Release 04/23/2020.

"Thank You For Your Support, Facebook!!!." Madison County Schools Facebook Post 04/23/2020.

:The Figgers Foundation Donates Over 700,000 Units of Personal Protection Equipment to Healthcare Workers in Hotspot Regions on Front Lines of Coronavirus Crisis." Figgers Foundation Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Americares Delivers 1.4 Million Masks to Protect Against COVID-19." Americares Press Release 04/17/2020.

"HEINZ Announces Initiative to Support America's Diners." Heinz Press Release 04/23/2020.

"Gift to Address Long-Term Challenges Affecting Education, Income and Health in North Texas." United Way of Dallas Press Release 04/16/2020.

"The KIND Foundation and Project N95 Launch the 'Frontline Impact Project', a Platform to Support the People Risking Their Lives to Keep Us Safe." KIND Foundation Press Release 04/14/2020.

"The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation Launches Emergency COVID-19 Response Fund." Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation Press Release 04/20/2020.

"Liberty Mutual Insurance Commits $15 Million in Crisis Grants to Community Partners." Liberty Mutual Insurance Press Release 04/15/2020.

"MetLife Foundation Supports COVID-19 Response In NYC." MetLife Foundation Press Release 04/16/2020.

"Publix Launches Initiative to Help Farmers, Feed Those in Need During Pandemic." Publix Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Coming Together: Support for Small Businesses Impacted by the Pandemic." Sam's Club Press Release 04/22/2020.

"Stanley Black & Decker Commits Financial Support and Expertise During COVID-19 Pandemic." Stanley Black & Decker Press Release 04/14/2020.

"SECU and SECU Foundation Join Efforts to Provide $10 Million for COVID-19 Disaster Relief!" State Employee Credit Union and SECU Foundation Press Release 04/09/2020.

"Patient Safety Movement Foundation Awarded $5 Million to Help Advance Its Mission to Improve Patient Safety and Reduce Preventable Hospital Deaths." Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation, and Competition in Healthcare Press Release 04/14/2020.

"PGA of America Announces Golf Emergency Relief Fund." PGA of America Press Release 04/13/2020.

"PPG Commits More Than $1.5 Million to Support Global COVID-19 Relief Efforts." PPG Press Release 04/14/2020.

"PSEG Foundation Commits $2.5 Million to Support Medical, Social and Economic Needs of New Jersey Communities Amid Devastating COVID-19 Pandemic." PSEG Foundation Press Release 04/14/2020.

"S&P Global Foundation Commits Additional USD $2M to COVID-19 Relief Efforts." S&P Global Foundation Press Release 04/14/2020.

"Siemens Foundation Provides $1.5M Across 12 Community Health Centers to Support COVID-19 Response Efforts." Siemens Foundation Press Release 04/16/2020.

"United Health Foundation Joins Forces with AARP Foundation in $5 Million Initiative to Support Seniors Experiencing Isolation, Food Insecurity, During COVID-19 Crisis." United Health Group Press Release 04/22/2020.

"UnitedHealth Group Donates $5 Million to Support National Program to Develop Convalescent Plasma Treatments for COVID-19." UnitedHealth Group Press Release 04/21/2020.

"Next Phase of Support for Tennis Industry Announced." United States Tennis Association Press Release 04/21/2020.

"The UPS Foundation Allocates $15M to U.S. Community Organizations and Worldwide Non-Profits in Fight Against Coronavirus and to Support the Road to Recovery." UPS Press Release 04/20/2020.

"The Foundations of We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service Commit $1 Million to COVID-19 Relief Effort." We Energies Press Release 04/14/2020.

"NIH to Launch Public-Private Partnership to Speed COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Options." National Institutes of Health Press Release 04/17/2020.

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.

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

Subscribe to PhilanTopic

Contributors

Guest Contributors

  • Laura Cronin
  • Derrick Feldmann
  • Thaler Pekar
  • Kathryn Pyle
  • Nick Scott
  • Allison Shirk

Tweets from @PNDBLOG

Follow us »

Filter posts

Select
Select
Select