Giving Compass' Take:

• Gender justice funders such as the Global Fund for Women and the Groundswell Fund are prioritizing rapid response funding for vulnerable populations impacted by COVID-19. 

• How can other funders catalyze more rapid response funding to collaboratively provide relief?

• Read how rapid response grants work for philanthropy. 

The philanthropic sector has tended to make funding decisions slowly—a wait up to 12 months, and funding cycles usually only open annually. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, funders had to shift quickly in order to meet the needs of their grantees. Gender justice funders have stepped quickly to provide emergency funding for their grantees, partly informed by the strong, trust-based relationships they have with their grantees.

“Rapid response is not new to us,” says Aleyamma Mathew, Executive Director of the Collective Future Fund. “It doesn’t take a global pandemic for us to know that things come up in organisations, especially as we are supporting groups led by women of color, queer and trans communities who have a lot of competing priorities in their lives. When we set up the fund, we always wanted to have an extra set of money to help organisations if they are struggling. When COVID-19 happened, we accelerated our rapid response.”

Indeed, rapid response has always been part of feminist funding. One of the oldest feminist funders, Global Fund for Women, are increasing their Crisis Fund grantmaking focusing on response, recovery, and resilience, recognizing the different stages of the pandemic and the need to address immediate, mid, and long-term needs.

Groundswell Fund, one of the largest funders of grassroots organizing and electoral work led by women of color and transgender people of color in the U.S, have increased their rapid response funding.

Woolf cites the example of their partner NOYED, which is utilising the emergency funds to cover the organisation’s core costs at a time of great uncertainty. “NOYED is a good example of what many smaller organisations are facing. Small, community-based organisations are most affected as the pandemic compounded fundraising and other challenges caused by other international shifts such as Brexit.

Read the full article about rapid response funding from gender justice donors by Bonnie Chiu at Forbes.