From the strain on the healthcare system to the global economic downturn, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to immense challenges for individuals, communities, and the nonprofit sector. Although there are many unknowns, there is also an opportunity for philanthropy to provide immediate and long-term support.

The National Center for Family Philanthropy recently hosted a webinar to provide an overview of the current funding landscape and offer ways for donors to be effective now and in the future. It’s crucial to think of funding in three ways: Immediate response, recovery funding, and resilience-building. With these phases in mind, you can begin to build your disaster philanthropy strategy.

Reduce Uncertainty 

According to Diana Scearce, principal of Diana Scearce Consulting, nonprofit leaders want funders to fully comprehend their organization’s strategy, response, and actions during this time and stay committed throughout the process.

Action item: Actively learn about the organization’s efforts and provide support without creating additional barriers.

Action item: Provide flexible funding that is tailored to the needs of grantees at this moment. There should be trust and openness when communicating with organizations.

Collaborate and Learn from Each Other

During this unprecedented time, donors should challenge themselves to think differently about how they give. This also means reimagining how impact is assessed. As the pandemic exacerbates socio-economic issues, leaving many individuals behind, donors can work with others to ensure they’re reaching those who need the most support. Maintain a broad lens for funding issues that take into account those who are especially vulnerable.

Action item: Leverage funder networks to learn and share best practices to maximize your response.

Action item: Give through an intermediary. Community foundations can quickly reach those in their community with the greatest need.

Fill in Gaps

Think about the issues that the government can’t or won’t address. Donors have more agility to fill those gaps quickly. Take the long view to understand the future challenges for vulnerable communities due to the pandemic and how philanthropy can help with rebuilding.

Action Item: Seek out opportunities to fund resilience and rebuilding plans for nonprofit organizations so they will have the capacity to provide services.

Action Item: Use impact investing to complement philanthropy dollars. Putting money into loan funds can help nonprofit organizations during this crisis.

This is a moment for philanthropy to make deliberate changes to funding patterns, relationships, and systems within the sector, and ensure better practices endure in the long-run.

Webinar panelists: Antony Bugg-Levine, CEO of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, Patricia McIlreavy, president and CEO of Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Diana Scearce, principal of Diana Scearce Consulting, and Marcus F. Walton, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations.