As the world confronts a global health crisis and critical changes in the economy, philanthropists are considering what role they can play to mitigate the detrimental impact on their key stakeholders. Here are some resources and strategies to consider:

on-demand Webinar: how foundation source clients are responding to covid-19

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked social and economic havoc, resulting in unprecedented challenge for those who want to support their communities and the essential workers and medical community on the frontlines of the fight. Watch this on-demand webinar to learn how Foundation Source clients are responding to the crisis.

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Our guests included:

  • Keely Badger, Executive Director, Mozaik Philanthropy, who discussed providing emergency relief grants to artists nationwide through a participatory grantmaking praxis.
  • Kathryn Flores, President, The Windhover Foundation, which provided in-kind grant support for the manufacture of 10,000 medical masks.

These guests were joined by Foundation Source National Director of Client Services, Stefanie Borsari, who explained how private foundations can leverage their unique capabilities to provide critical support to both nonprofit organizations and individuals in need.

On-demand Webinar: How Foundations Can provide emergency support to individuals

If you’d like to learn how private foundations can make grants directly to individuals in response to COVID-19, view this free, on-demand webinar, How Foundations Can Provide Emergency Support to Individuals. Foundation Source Chief Legal Officer Jeffrey D. Haskell and Chief Philanthropic Officer Page Snow review the “nuts and bolts” of giving emergency assistance. They also go over the form that Foundation Source developed for its clients to streamline the process and make it easier to comply with IRS guidelines.

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article: Giving in the time of covid-19

The global pandemic of COVID-19 is a crisis unlike any in recent memory. Here in the U.S., if fatalities reach 200,000, as currently projected, we will have lost more than two times the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War and WWI combined. And if coupled with months of shuttered businesses, the lost jobs and mounting debt could damage countless lives and shatter thousands of families.

In the face of these immense challenges, how can private foundations respond? This article provides some suggestions to consider.

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As we confront the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, we wanted to share information about one of the most useful capabilities of a private foundation: the ability to grant directly to individuals and families in case of disaster, medical emergency, or financial hardship.

This article explains that there’s no need to set up a separate nonprofit in order to deliver tax-advantaged funds to people who suddenly find themselves out of work and burdened with bills they can’t pay. And because foundations don’t need to seek prior approval from the IRS to make these grants, they can respond to this growing need quickly.

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Article: Emergency Grants to Employees

While the IRS permits corporate foundations to make grants directly to individuals in need within their target communities, self-dealing regulations typically prohibit them from assisting employees of their own sponsoring companies. However, corporate foundations are permitted to do so in the case of a “qualified” disaster, one that is federally declared by the president, resulting from certain terrorist or military actions, an accident involving a common carrier, or any other event that the secretary of the treasury has defined as catastrophic. In March 2020, President Trump declared coronavirus a national emergency, so it too became a qualified disaster.

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2020 client survey: the year that changed everything

The cumulative impact of COVID-19, high unemployment, and social turmoil has pressured foundations to do more with finite resources. To determine how private foundations are meeting this moment, Foundation Source surveyed its clients about the forces shaping their grantmaking; how they’ve adapted their missions and strategies; and their outlook for the remainder of the year. Here are the results.

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General REsources

Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

World Health Organization (WHO)

information for funders

Council on Foundations Resource Hub

National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP)

The Philanthropy Roundtable

United Philanthropy Forum

Regional Response funds

These two organizations update the growing list of regional response funds.

Giving Compass

National Center For Family Philanthropy

Also refer to state health department websites.

On-Demand Webinar: Disaster Philanthropy: A Starting Point

Foundation Source and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy are pleased to offer this on-demand webinar: Disaster Philanthropy: A Starting Point! Join us as we discuss the unique role that private foundations can play in mitigating the impact of natural and man-made crises.

Presented by:

Elizabeth Wong, Senior Philanthropic Director, Foundation Source

Regine A. Webster, Vice President, Center for Disaster

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FAQs from the Disaster Philanthropy Webinar

Ask Your Grantees and Partners about Critical Needs

Foundations have partnerships with nonprofit organizations that are on the front lines of delivering much-needed services, conducting important research, and developing new and important approaches to persistent social problems. These partners are an excellent resource for how to help. Seek out their input. Learn from these partners what the greatest needs are, whether it is more support for food bank or shelters, scientific research, or funding for ongoing efforts to address problems that will not lessen during these crises.

Be Flexible in Your Funding Methods

Difficult times often require different approaches. Foundations that typically provide project support might consider general operating support as a method to support organizations through these particularly challenging economic times. While the government and private sectors are seeking out ways to support income loss for individuals that has resulted from COVID-19 or market volatility, private foundations might focus their attention on income loss experienced by nonprofit organizations. Consider your grantees who have had to cancel their main annual fundraisers and the impact that this loss of income will have on their ability to support individuals in need. For example, a quick turn-around general operating support grant could enable a food bank to keep its doors open and feed the increased numbers of clients who will face food scarcity as businesses and schools temporarily close.

In addition to providing support for immediate needs, private foundations play an important role in supporting medium- and long-term efforts.