As COVID-19 continues to spread in our communities, one thing is becoming clear: response to this crisis looks different than the disaster response we usually see. Natural disasters are devastating but they do have enough commonalities that there are expectations – timelines, for example, of when relief becomes recovery, and when recovery becomes rebuilding. In the traditional disaster relief model, the charitable gifts people give are usually spent last, after the array of FEMA, MEMA, insurance payments are made. There is a process, and generally there is time for those charitable dollars to be spent deliberately and with a strong process in place on how the money gets distributed.
What we’re seeing across the country with this crisis is that the need for relief, for support, access to resources, and grantmaking networks and expertise is now more crucial than ever. Money is needed immediately, and philanthropic dollars are our most nimble funds. While there is relief from government sources coming, it can be confusing to access and may not serve everyone who is suffering from the fallout of COVID-19.
Like many other sectors, philanthropy has had to swiftly adapt to the changing environment resulting from the pandemic by ramping up efforts to support response measures. Many of our colleagues are determining how to decrease the number of hurdles to get money in the hands of those who need it – organizations and individuals. Getting money moving—quickly– serves two purposes – it helps those who need it, and it begins to percolate through the local economy again. For a crisis that is both health-related and economic in nature, this is an important point.
Our nonprofit partners are finding themselves building a boat, sailing it and creating the navigational charts all at once. The truth is, there isn’t a playbook for this one. Some of our local agencies have seen their numbers of clients double or triple within days. For the medium term a network of philanthropy and nonprofits is already working on creating a roadmap to recovery. But the right thing to do right now is to be creative in our approaches to helping people. We believe one of the best ways we can help is to push more resources toward the nonprofits on the front lines, those already hard at work helping provide relief to those who are hurting. Our donors trust that we have the expertise to identify strong partners with good programs, and to provide the necessary oversight to steward their gifts. We are here to help.
In addition to the knowledge we have, many organizations in our state and around the country have organized resources nonprofits and donors to ensure that good work can continue for people with the most need during this crisis. Whether you choose to work with or through us, or want to explore possible ways and people to help, this short resource list can help.
The Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy
The Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy (The Alliance) has curated resources for nonprofits, donors, and volunteers on their website. This resource site includes general information about COVID-19 in Mississippi, as well as specific information organizations can use to adapt to the changing workplace and growing community needs. Visit The Alliance’s website for more information.
The Southeastern Council of Foundations
The Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF) also created a resources hub for funders, including a webinar, several blog posts, and a curated list of articles. SECF also hosted a funder-to-funder virtual town hall meeting that included expert advice from foundation leaders across the southeast. You can view a recording of the session on the SECF website.
Council on Foundations
The Council on Foundations (COF) has issued a call to action for philanthropy to commit to support nonprofit partners and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19. COF is encouraging foundations and other philanthropic organizations to loosen or eliminate restrictions on current grants, make new unrestricted grants when possible, reduce the paperwork required by nonprofit partners, communicate proactively and regularly, among other commitments. Review the pledge on COF’s website. The organization also has a resource hub with additional links to resources and information.
For Philanthropists from Philanthropists
A recent article in The New York Times entitled How Philanthropists are Helping During the Crisis highlights ways philanthropists can support response efforts. The writer spoke with donors around the country who shared ideas for how other philanthropists could continue assisting nonprofits and other charitable causes during these times. One idea was to let another organization vet giving opportunities—which is especially essential if the donor wants to ensure their dollars stay local. Read more suggestions for donors in the article.
Mississippi Community Response and Recovery Fund
At the Community Foundation, we are continuing to work with a growing number of partners to raise funds for Mississippi response efforts. The Mississippi Community Response and Recovery Fund will provide funding to organizations working to help our state’s residents with immediate and emerging needs resulting from COVID-19 and other disasters. We can also help donors find ways to support other nonprofits and causes that are leading positive, transformational work for Mississippi communities.
We believe that our role and responsibility in times like these is to make it easier for you to connect to giving opportunities and information. Our goal is to help you better support the causes, communities, and nonprofits you care about most.