“But I don’t fund healthcare…” How all donors – no matter what they fund – can help right now.

Cross-posted with permission from Firelight Foundation

The incredible escalation of events prompted by COVID-19 have had profound impacts on social systems, health systems, human movement and democracies that are unprecedented in many of our lifetimes. There are so many important things that will need to be supported in the immediate and in the months to come – from biosecurity, to healthcare, to emergency response.

But this is the time for all funders to act – including those whose grantmaking is nowhere near the health sector. Every non-profit that you support is likely struggling right now – every one of them. Those that work in education, social services, human rights, climate, population, conflict – you name it – everyone is struggling. And you can help.

Ask your grantees if they are ok. They are likely suffering from a lot of emotional and social stress. They don’t have endowments, they don’t often have the option to work from home. Any social service organization or civil society organization will now be on the front lines. They need you to reach out to them.

Ask your grantees if they need additional funding to get their employees out to the front lines safely or home safely. Most non-profits don’t have emergency funds to relocate their employees out to where the need is the greatest with the right protective gear and support mechanisms, or to bring them home in the case of an emergency like this.

Ask your grantees if they need an extension on their work. Everyone is impacted right now and that includes your grantees. All of them will face tremendous challenges with human movement and this will make it harder for them to do their jobs.

Offer to cover direct and indirect costs associated with the grant extension that you are (hopefully) going to give them. Ask them what they need to tide them over during the extension so that basic activities can continue. And many non-profits rely on doing their work on time and spending your grant on time so they can recover indirect costs. An extension on their work may not cost you anything, but it certainly costs them.

Fund your grantees to prepare – especially if they are not in a place where the virus has already taken hold. If you are funding grantees in places where COVID-19 has not taken hold, consider what supplementary funding you can give them to actively support your grantees to work on their preparedness – even if they don’t work in health. Anyone who works with community, society, families, governments needs to be able to be prepared.

Ask your grantees if they want or need an immediate grant to do something completely different. No matter what your grantees do now, they may soon need or wish to take their skills to temporarily support their community in a different way.

No matter what you do – please make your grant decisions immediately. Please don’t make grantees waste their time on a detailed proposal right now. This is a matter of life and death. Please don’t let valuable time pass as they sit at a computer filling in forms.

Unrestricted fundsThey are always appreciated but now more than ever. They allow your grantees to spend money and time where it is needed. Right now, they might even save lives.

Don’t withdraw your funds if you don’t see the outcomes you wanted during this time. Everyone’s activities, impact, indicators and outcomes are going to suffer under the current climate. We need to support collective human action now, in every way that we can.


FCAA is monitoring the current news and impact of this evolving situation. In terms of philanthropy’s role and response, we recommend the United Philanthropy Forum’s hub: How Philanthropy Can Respond to COVID-19.

We encourage you to share any evolving policies or practices that your organizations are instituting. FCAA is committed to helping collect and connect organizations during this time. 

  • Have you instituted new operational policies?
  • Have you had to cancel or change meetings or grantee events?
  • Have you made any changes to your grantmaking priorities?

Please share your feedback, thoughts or news with Sarah Hamilton, Director of Operations, sarah@fcaaids.orgWe also encourage you to follow us on Twitter where we will share resources as we find them.