In solidarity with the global philanthropic community, Pacific Foundation Services client foundations are mobilizing to support response efforts to combat the mounting impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic. While projections change daily in this rapidly-evolving crisis, it is clear that the challenges ahead are intense and widespread and philanthropy has an essential role to play in safeguarding our region and our world.
Nonprofit organizations are on the front lines of this crisis. The need for support, services, and basic essentials—from food and health care to emergency financial assistance—is skyrocketing daily. The incredible work that nonprofit organizations do to nourish communities and provide care and services for the most vulnerable matters now more than ever, even as the risks that this crisis poses to them mount daily.
This moment calls for both near- and long-term responses, and we are heartened by the many ways that philanthropists are stepping up, both to provide urgent funding to organizations serving high-risk populations, and to sustain funding for vulnerable nonprofit partners.
How You Can Help Today
In terms of immediate actions, PFS is urging philanthropists to give even more generously, rapidly, and flexibly than usual to support relief efforts. Specifically, we encourage foundations to:
- Provide capacity-building support. Unrestricted funding will help nonprofits absorb the varied impacts of this crisis—from cancelled programming, to displaced staffs, to drops in individual giving, to shutting down entirely to support social distancing.
- Provide emergency grants to organizations rising to meet the high demand for safety net services—even if this falls outside of your current giving strategy. Organizations playing a critical role in our communities include: food distribution, food and supply banks; health clinics; financial support programs; housing and mental health outreach; and educational organizations. (These links will direct you to examples of local organizations currently rising to meet challenges across the Bay Area. Please reach out to our team if you’d like recommendations in your local community. Contact: Jessi Misslin at email@example.com)
- Increase grants to existing grantees to offset losses.
- Give to pooled funds that are directing much-needed dollars to vetted partners throughout the region. Click here for a list of funds throughout the state, which is being updated regularly. The CDC has also established the Campaign to Combat Coronavirus to meet urgent demands beyond those that can be met by government support.
Examples of local funds where dollars will be deployed quickly across areas of need:
Oakland COVID-19 Relief Fund
SFF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund
Tipping Point Community COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund
COVID-19 Regional Response Fund
- Relax requirements and modify guidelines, including upcoming deadlines, and be flexible with organizations that may need to apply restricted funds towards general operations at this time.
Celebrating Bold Moves
PFS client foundations have already acted swiftly and generously, taking actions like:
- Directing additional grants toward crisis response efforts (even if they fall outside of grant cycles, guidelines or regional focus);
- Maintaining current grant budgets, despite drops in asset value in recent weeks;
- Approving six-figure emergency grants to support national research efforts to increase access to COVID-19 testing and to increase the capacity of health care systems across California;
- Approving emergency grant dollars for projects that will incur additional costs due to cancellation of contracts or postponed projects;
- Incorporating emergency planning into their investment policies;
- Planning for increased annual pay-outs surpassing the traditional 5% payout threshold; and
- Adjusting deadlines for upcoming application submissions and reports, while relaxing grant restrictions to allow for general operating expenditures.
We applaud these bold choices and stand resolute with our client partners in these inspired acts of leadership.
Beyond immediate measures, this crisis reminds us of the importance of developing a long-term emergency response strategy. Recent history has shown that particularly here in California, sudden environmental, health, and other disasters and crises will reoccur, and to that end, PFS will prioritize emergency preparedness with clients in the year ahead.
As we know, the long-term impacts of this crisis are significant. From the local to the global, this health threat is indeed a reminder of our interconnectedness—and as we brace for the challenges, we can also affirm our shared humanity and our collective ability to get through this together.
We appreciate the extraordinary work happening every day.
PFS will continue to track and share resources, and we encourage you to contact us to answer any questions and assist with next steps.