If you’re counting, it’s week nine. Sometimes it feels like month nine because so much has happened in these weeks of uncertainty and change.
In messages we shared over the past several weeks, we reported that we are spending much of our time listening and learning. That remains true.
I want to take a moment to share some of what we have gathered so far and to offer some practical steps to take to be a part of philanthropy’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.
What are the most prominent areas of need?
There are many important needs right now. Rather than attempt a fully comprehensive list, I’d like to share some of the areas of need that have risen to the top.
As we learn more, the needs are becoming more specific. Still, our broad recommendation remains to make grants directly to nonprofits for general operating support, which any and all nonprofits can benefit from right now. To learn more about what we mean by general operating support, click here.
Why general operating support?
Beyond those organizations that are engaged directly in responding to the COVID-19 virus, the entire nonprofit community is experiencing significant financial impacts from this crisis, including:
If you want to read more about what nonprofits are telling us about the impacts of COVID-19, you can read this report from a survey conducted by NC Center for Nonprofits.
In summary, nonprofits are spending more money right now for operations, and they have lost opportunities to raise money that usually supports those operations. That means that nonprofits will experience lasting impacts on their budgets, and general operating support is a way to maximize the benefit of your grant dollars during this time.
How can I help through my donor advised fund?
A recent article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy opened with the declaration that the coronavirus pandemic has sparked an “explosion of grantmaking from donor advised funds.” That is a trend that is often seen in a crisis like this one that comes with economic impacts, because donor advised funds hold dollars that are already set aside for charitable purposes.* A different approach to grantmaking from these funds may be in order to maximize their impact. Here are some steps to take toward that goal:
If these steps feel hard or if you are looking for ideas specific to the pandemic, let us help. Our program officers are well-informed through their knowledge of the nonprofit communities all over the state, and they are actively developing lists of nonprofit needs. Much of that information is being used by our affiliate foundation boards to make grant decisions, so keep an eye on how they are responding in your community. Maybe you can match a grant they make. And of course, our donor engagement officers are here to support your specific interests and to help you develop your list.
You’ve heard it said, we’re all in this together. We will continue to update you on new things we are hearing about needs related to COVID-19 and new ways that we are responding. We are not done exploring the best role for us. Our experience with hurricanes has taught us that serving unmet, long-term needs is a good fit for us. That can be hard when you see, hear and feel the needs emerging all around you. But we have seen the benefits of patience with hurricane response and of being there when the immediate relief has passed. We envision the same this time.
Consider this the beginning of this conversation with you, not the end, and thank you for your partnership.
* Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Giving From Donor-Advised Funds Surge as Pandemic Spreads