Call for action: Philanthropy in times of pandemic
Dear donors and supporters,
The novel COVID-19 outbreak represents one of the biggest interruptions of everyday life, society routines, personal and professional life around the world and across state borders. The long-lasting impact on social and political life, as well as the economy, are currently quite unpredictable. All of us are facing daunting challenges with no foreseeable end date. At the same time, the current situation brings starkly to the forefront the need for systemic change, while crippling our capacities to work towards this wanted change.
We are reaching out on behalf of the Facilitation Group of FundAction, a platform that gathers close to 300 activists and CSO workers around Europe, as well as broader communities and networks which are highly affected by this pandemic. Our members, their partner networks and affected communities are all facing the same concerns and challenges.
This novel virus threatens to cripple civil society organisations and the vitally important services they provide. Many of them have been forced to close their doors, postpone their projects, cancel events, training, or essential front-line social services for the most vulnerable and marginalized people. Furthermore, conversations about our sustainability have turned into conversations about survivability. In these extraordinary circumstances, your role is crucial, and thus measuring up to it will require essential support, flexibility and certainty as much as possible. If funders don’t take concrete and decisive steps, many organizations may simply disappear over the next few months, and the work which has been built over years or decades may vanish much to the detriment of communities and beneficiaries. The civic efforts to build a better future for all of us can step back or suddenly stop.
We know that the philanthropic and grantmaking communities have experience in joining their efforts to respond to crises, and therefore, civil society counts on you as reliable partners. We call on all the donors to help respond to the emerging needs, cover losses associated with the disruption of our work and help us continue our missions. To take care of your beneficiaries and to support civil society, we suggest several ways on how this can be done:
1. Offer financial flexibility – This can be done through (1) converting existing grants into unrestricted funds; (2) allowing organisations to use money differently; or (3) adding additional funds for emergency needs and priorities.
2. Show genuine care and explore the needs – Listen for the real needs of your beneficiaries and support them.
3. Allow for adapting activities and time schedules – Due to the circumstances, agreed activities and outcomes may not be achieved, therefore encourage and be supportive of re-design and re-scheduling of activities.
4. Support new ways of interaction – Physical distancing and current precautionary measures require to look for new ways of interaction and collaboration. We cannot allow “physical distancing” to affect our social connections. Therefore, we need to remain socially connected, maintain our relations, sense of community and common sense of purpose.
5. Introduce rapid response funds – This crisis is a fertile atmosphere for emergency situations to arise, therefore responsible philanthropic foundations should fastly react and provide timely support for those in need. This is very important, especially at this moment of increased solidarity actions and initiatives around the world.
6. Simplify applications and reports – Not adding additional pressure on organizations, so they can better focus time, energy and resources on current challenges rather than meeting strict requirements.
We believe that in these manners we would be co-creating a culture of solidarity, trust and burden-sharing. Your support is more important than ever, as we prepare to rebuild the post-pandemic world together.
FundAction’s Facilitation Group:
Iva Čukić (coordinator), Ana Méndez de Andés, Ruby van der Wekken, Brîndușa Bîrhală, Mina Jaf, Luka Knežević Strika, Aris Papadopoulos and Joe Doran