Nonprofit organizations both large and small are facing many challenges right now. For those of you who are providing direct services to members of your community who are most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, you are facing an urgent need for emergency funding. While we are encouraged by what we are hearing from basic and human service organizations across the country who are seeing increased online donation activity and an increase in unsolicited gifts that “walk in the door”, we wanted to bring you a few other resources to consider for emergency funding.
Throw Everything You Know About Grantmaking Out The Window – For Now!
In the course of my regular work for capital campaign clients, I have reached out to several foundations as the COVID-19 outbreak began to spread further across the United States before submitting a scheduled proposal or letter of inquiry. Every single one of them was temporarily refocusing their grantmaking to immediate community needs for their most vulnerable neighbors.
I bring this up to remind you that we are in uncharted territory here and things are changing – for the short term – while we all try to respond as best we can to the challenges facing us. In fact, the Council on Foundations has issued a call to action to grantmakers across the country to approach grantmaking differently in the coming weeks and months. This includes temporary changes such as loosening or eliminating restrictions on current grants, loosening geographic limitations and providing unrestricted funding as much as possible, among others. You can read the full pledge and see the list of grantmakers who have signed it here.
So, reach out to the funders in your community, even those whose fields of interest may not usually line up with your mission. You never know what they might be ready to do to support their community when it is needed most!
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is a valuable resource for any nonprofit organization responding to the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, this organization is a great resource in the event of any disaster in your community that requires your organization’s response. Their COVID-19 Response Fund has been established to support all efforts addressing the crisis. They have been joined by major, generous corporations including The Coca-Cola Foundation, The Hershey Company, UPS Foundation and others as listed on their website. Reach out to their staff, who are also listed on their website, for more information on their grantmaking strategies and how your organization can be invited to request emergency funds.
Community foundations across the country have mobilized quickly to the urgent need for emergency funding to respond to this crisis. This list from the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative is a phenomenal resource to see what is already in place from coast to coast. Lean on your community foundation during this critical time – not only are they raising their own funds for disaster response but they are also able to provide leadership through their community partnerships to coordinate relief efforts across many different nonprofit organizations, local governments and other relief organizations.
Here in North Texas, some of our region’s largest private and corporate foundations have teamed up with local United Way agencies to create North Texas Cares. The funder collaborative has built in operational efficiencies for both funders and nonprofits seeking emergency funds in an effort to support organizations that are responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Another example is the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund launched by the Ford Foundation.
Collaboratives like this are popping up in communities all over the country to pool resources and make grantmaking as efficient as possible during this time. Check out what is going on in your community to see if any of these opportunities are available to your organization.
In 2018, more than $37 billion was contributed to donor-advised funds. This growing pool of resources is virtually unrestricted in how it must be dispersed, leaving a significant number of donors who are waiting to be inspired – or, possibly, waiting to respond to an unprecedented and urgent need. Of course, DAF funds are pooled and invested, so the current market situation is impacting their asset base in the same way that it is impacting traditional foundations. However, DAF funds can and should be put to work in this crisis just as other grantmakers are being urged to do the same. Keep your local community foundation and other wealth managers up to date on your organization’s efforts to support the community and identify your most urgent needs so that they are prepared if and when a donor-advisor asks them where they can make a gift.
We are ready to help you navigate these uncertain times and help you to find emergency funders in your area. Shoot me an email and I’ll be glad to help you!
Helen O’Connor, Capital Campaign Manager for Brad Cecil & Associates, also contributed to this article.