Giving Compass' Take:

• Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees shares advice for funders who want to support immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

• How can you best address the needs of immigrants in your area? What unique challenges does your community face? 

• Access coronavirus resources for donors.

Much like natural disasters, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is an equalizing force that does not discriminate and affects people from all walks of life, demonstrating our interdependence. It has exposed and magnified longstanding systemic inequities and structural injustices for immigrants, communities of color, and other marginalized communities. Those affected range from people of Asian heritage who have experienced racist and xenophobic attacks to low-wage undocumented workers for whom not work or seeking medical care may not a viable option.

Immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers have already been living under intense fear and terror, and the coronavirus will make life even harder on multiple fronts, particularly because much remains unknown. Philanthropy and the movement have the responsibility and opportunity to work together to address immediate health, social, economic, and other impacts of this pandemic; push a bold policy agenda from health care and paid sick leave to expanded worker and tenant protections; and advance long-term goals to shift the narrative, change culture, and build the bigger “we.”


  • School closures means: Many children are missing free daytime meals and losing access to health services.
  • They face significant barriers when schools transition to digital learning due to less access to the internet and the necessary technology.
  • Their parents, particularly low-wage workers, lack childcare options.
  • COVID-19 renders face-to-face contacts, the most effective form of Census outreach, unfeasible, forcing organizations to switch to campaigns focused on digital outreach and advertising, which are less effective.
  • Detained immigrants are very vulnerable to COVID-19, as conditions are crowded; access to medical care is typically slow; an outbreak could end visitation programs; and other challenges.
  • Trans communities—and the organizations that support them—face particular challenges to their health and their ability to find needed support.


  • Innovation is now essential to successful outreach efforts. For example, recruiting trusted community ambassadors who can text members of their community.
  • We have more power collectively, by uniting our different strengths and aligning movements for equity for all people on the margins.
  • We must build the bigger “we.” Immigrant rights encompass a wide range of movements and goals for equity and justice.


  • Flexibility: To respond effectively, many grantees will need to change strategies, in some cases dramatically.
  • Support the grassroots: All broader efforts can benefit from on-the-ground experience within impacted communities.
  • Fund the ecosystem: Funding should support services and advocacy, not either-or.
    Capacity building: Always a good grantmaking strategy, it is doubly valuable in a crisis.

Read the full article about supporting immigrant communities at Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees.