Public policy engagement is emerging as a crucial element of the philanthropic response to the COVID-19 crisis. It is especially timely, then, that new research out today from CEP sheds light on how foundations think about and approach their efforts to influence policy — and raises pressing questions about how to best move forward in a time when a policy-oriented response is especially relevant.

Funders are focusing on policy-related solutions as a part of crisis relief efforts right now in several ways.

Funders are making grants to support nonprofits’ COVID-19-related policy and advocacy efforts. Eight funders committed $7.1 million for the Families and Workers Fund to advocate for long-term policy efforts to reshape labor regulation. Wallace Global Fund announced grants “to advocate for stimulus packages that…reach underserved communities who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.”

Funders are also using their voices to advocate for policy responses to COVID-19. A Washington Post op-ed from Richard Besser, president and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, advocates for “sick leave, universal health care, quality child care and early education, as well as fair immigration policies.” In an op-ed in the L.A. Times, Judy Belk, president and CEO of the California Wellness Foundation, writes about COVID-19’s disproportionate effect on black and brown communities and advocates for policy responses that put racial equity front and center.

And funders are collaborating with each other to influence policymakers’ decisions about relief measures. With leadership from Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), for example, more than 30 funders in California called on Governor Gavin Newson “to protect and support immigrant Californians as it considers important funding and policy decisions within the context of the Executive branch’s COVID-19 pandemic response.”

Read the full article about foundations and policy influence by Naomi Orensten at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.