The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted every aspect of life around the globe and exacerbated perennial challenges such as entrenched poverty, hunger, lack of access to health care and racial inequality.

In spite of the challenge presented by social distancing requirements, the U.S.’s civil society has mobilized to begin meeting historic levels of need for direct services.

And as a reinvigorated movement for Black civil and human rights swelled again last spring and summer, organizations working at the intersection of advocacy, community organizing and systems change have stepped up, too. U.S. foundations, corporations and individual donors have responded, and according to Candid, more than $10.7 billion in U.S. grantmaking has been dedicated to meeting the COVID-19 challenge so far.

There is no doubt that philanthropy has responded to COVID-19 on a scale not seen before. Nearly 800 philanthropic organizations signed on to the Council on Foundations pledge calling on foundations to commit significant resources in response to COVID-19 and reduce grant restrictions and reporting requirements for their grantees.

A July and August survey by the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) found that 72% of surveyed foundations said they had increased their 2020 payout above what they had planned for the year. “Almost all” surveyed foundations reported a new strategic focus on supporting Black communities and other marginalized people during the ongoing COVID crisis, and 80% of surveyed funders said they were prioritizing systems change funding.

A survey of 500 of the largest U.S. foundations by scholars at the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy (fielded between May and August) found that 75% reported they had relaxed restrictions on grants, making it easier for recipients to use the funds to meet emergency needs. Most (70%) said they’d started a COVID-specific response fund. But less than one-third reported they had increased their payout percentage.

The dissonance between this final statistic and that gathered by CEP’s survey demonstrates the limitations of reporting percentages from limited sample sizes.

The debate will continue whether foundations and other donors have done enough to fulfill their obligations during the ongoing crises gripping the country. Candid will not have a full picture of 2020 grantmaking until more giving data becomes available — ideally from funders submitting their grants directly to Candid.

Read the full article about COVID-19 philanthropy by  Ryan Schlegel, Anna Koob at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.