Giving Compass' Take:

• Philanthropy can play a role in addressing inequalities revealed by COVID-19 by supporting local community action and the infrastructure. 

• How are you utilizing charitable dollars toward addressing inequality? What does supporting justice initiatives look like to you?

•  Learn about collaborative funding for systems change.


Philanthropy has a responsibility to respond to the inequalities revealed by COVID-19 and graphically underlined by the killing of George Floyd.

Many philanthropies have listened to their grantees and are already offering no cost extensions and meeting unexpected operational costs. Others are increasing spend and contributing to pooled funds for particularly impacted groups.

However, philanthropy must avoid spending too much time on the urgent while ignoring the strategically important. Now is the time to move beyond crisis response to grasp the opportunities for systemic change.

The pandemic is holding up a mirror to our world. Those most vulnerable are poor people. The majority of ‘essential’ workers are low paid, under-valued and often of migrant background. People from black and minority ethnic communities are disproportionality among the dying. That’s the wider structural context in which Mr Floyd’s killing should be viewed.

We’ve seen that the homeless can be housed if governments see rough-sleeping as a health risk. Public money can be found to build hospitals quickly. What is deemed ‘common sense’ can be turned on its head given determined political leadership. The Obama mantra of ‘Yes we can’ is resounding through societies where such leadership is being exercised.

Philanthropy should embrace the same approach. What does a fairer more compassionate world look like? How do we get there? It’s time for more ambitious objectives.

The old problems that need new questions asked of them include the impact of deepening inequalities; structural racism, the climate emergency; creeping political authoritarianism; and a geo-political order that privileges militarised security over human security. Choices need to be made. There is power in supporting activism that sparks people to make choices.

So where should philanthropy be putting its resources? There are multiple options.

Read the full article about philanthropic scaffolding by Avila Kilmurray at Alliance Magazine.