According to Newsweek Magazine, this is philanthropy’s shining moment. We at the National Christian Foundation couldn’t agree more, though the giving we witness every day is consistent. Yes, it shows up in a crisis. But it’s been there all along and continues, even after the stories are no longer in the news.
The pandemic caused by the coronavirus is exactly the kind of challenge for which philanthropy is ideally suited, and philanthropists realize it. They’re stepping up big time.
According to candid.org, which tracks mostly U.S. foundations, the donations so far for COVID-19 response total almost $8.3 billion. Google alone is giving almost a billion dollars. Jeff Bezos, Oprah, Leonardo DiCaprio and Laurene Powell Jobs are supporting food banks. Bezos’ $100 million dollar gift to Feeding America is the largest in the organization’s history.
Through their foundation, hedge fund billionaires Ray and Barbara Dalio are buying 60,000 laptops for needy students so they can participate in distance learning. They’ve also given $4 million to pay for childcare services for hospital workers. Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter and Square, is giving away a billion dollars, almost a third of his fortune. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed hundreds of millions, and the United Way Worldwide has raised $382 million in response to COVID-19, according to Brian A. Gallagher, United Way’s president and CEO.
These examples don’t include the checks being written by everyday Americans to food banks and community chests.
“Innovation – taking risks that governments can’t take on. Flexibility. Philanthropies can move fast … and working across borders. This is philanthropy’s moment to work well.”
– Una Osili, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI
Foundations are also working to get money out the door faster, even though they’re themselves under pressure as the fall in the stock market has hit endowments hard.
The COVID-19 crisis is philanthropy’s type of problem. Philanthropy is good at “filling in gaps,” according to Una Osili, professor of economics and philanthropic studies at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. “Innovation – taking risks that governments can’t take on. Flexibility. Philanthropies can move fast. Donors can step in to ensure that children are not hungry. And working across borders. This is philanthropy’s moment to work well.”