Those who work in philanthropy are  likely familiar with crisis response and management. But when we in the sector are also directly affected by that crisis while working to respond to it, the fullness of the impact comes into even greater focus. When COVID-19 first emerged in China in the final months of 2019, the Medtronic Foundation rapidly responded to immediate needs on the ground. We did our best to prepare clear and quick communications and assess where we could provide the greatest support. But as COVID-19 crossed borders, the pandemic raised the stakes for communities, first responders, and philanthropists worldwide.

The community members and health workers most affected by these events have been on the front lines, entrenched in fighting global and national emergencies on two fronts. In this article, we share an inside look at what it is like to experience a crisis while attempting to deliver critical communications and on-the-ground support to communities locally and globally.

Using existing relationships, the Medtronic Foundation identified nonprofit partners that could help us target our dollars to the underserved populations who needed funding most, significantly reducing our usual six-to-nine-month grantmaking process down to just six weeks. For example, in Boulder, Colorado, we partnered with the Boulder Community Foundation to assess needs in the area and identify the groups that were in the best position to provide solutions.

From the Medtronic Foundation’s on-the-ground response, we identified six actions essential for philanthropies to consider as they respond to crises.

  • Be visible
  • Be clear, direct, and thorough
  • Be aware of differing experiences 
  • Be nimble while maintaining commitments
  • Be a good community steward
  • Be thoughtful about your long-term impact 

Read the full article about managing crisis by Allison Frailich & Liz Lund at Stanford Social Innovation Review.