Giving Compass' Take:

• John Feather provides nine recommendations for funders who want to effectively support older adults during the coronavirus pandemic. 

• Are you ready to step up for older adults in your community? What needs are most urgent in your community? 

• Learn more about ensuring the safety of older adults during COVID-19


The coronavirus pandemic is impacting all segments of our society in unprecedented ways. Much remains unknown about the disease and its course, but we know for certain that older people will be disproportionately impacted. Foundations and corporate giving programs have a critical role at times like these. What is philanthropy’s role in responding to this crisis to support older Americans?

  1. Provide more funds. Perhaps the most obvious way philanthropy can help is to provide additional funding as quickly and as flexibly as possible.
  2. Convene. Philanthropy is also an ideal convener, with long commitments and relationships in the places its organizations serve.
  3. Educate. Supporting trusted communications channels that focus on where older people and their caregivers can find information and access to services is crucial.
  4. Reframe. While divisive voices continue to say that “only old people die” from the pandemic, responsible voices have pushed back.
  5. Focus on the marginalized. Older people are all at risk due to the specific traits of the coronavirus, but those who live in poverty, are alone, are people of color, or are homeless, are particularly at risk. Their social support systems are likely to be already fragile, and this crisis may break them completely.
  6. Reduce isolation. We have all been told to stay at home and avoid interaction with others, but social isolation can be deadly for older people.
  7. Support caregivers. Those who provide support of older adults — whether in paid positions or family members and friends who are unpaid caregivers — are particularly hard pressed by this crisis.
  8. Support policy. Some funders equate “policy” with legislative advocacy. But in a time like this, policy decisions are being made at all levels, from town councils to regulatory agencies to financial institutions to the Congress of the United States.
  9. Be a voice. Philanthropy has a special role in our society as a funder of important programs, but also as an influencer in shaping debates concerning vital topics.

Read the full article about protecting older adults during COVID-19 by John Feather at Forbes.