Greater Good Blog

Looking Toward Philanthropy’s New Future

Looking Toward Philanthropy’s New Future

Every day this week brought more bad news: from shortages of test kits and ventilators to a falling stock market and fears of a deep recession; from layoffs to lockdowns; from shrinking endowments to burgeoning lists of increasingly immediate needs. People we care about are hurting, across our country and around the world. And we know that the worst is yet to come.

Nevertheless, we saw many signs of hope. We saw health care workers headed to our hospitals—risks be damned. We saw neighbors organizing food delivery to support their quarantined friends. We saw people using Twitter to identify out-of-work strangers whose bills they can pay for a time. And we saw philanthropy beginning to step up. We saw worldwide philanthropic giving for COVID-19 surpassing $1 billion. We saw multiple foundations removing restrictions from their existing grants. We saw our friends at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, the New Venture Fund, and community foundations across the country standing up rapid-response funds and preparing to serve those in need.

Within our own practice at Arabella, we are now hearing every hour from foundations, individual donors, and corporations who are anxious to do all they can. Having moved our operations fully online, we are helping clients both continue crucial work in a changing world and launch new COVID-19 initiatives. Already, we are helping with efforts to support autoworkers in Detroit, to feed children in Oakland, to care for currently incarcerated youth across the country, and to prepare for safe and secure elections in the middle of a global pandemic. We have also worked with the fiscal sponsor organizations we manage to re-tool operations so we can get more COVID-19 response resources to frontline grantees faster and easier with greater impact.

At the same time, we have started thinking about the new future philanthropy faces. Obviously, that future is still taking shape. Still, we can already discern some crucial questions it will have to answer:

If you are reading this blog, then you either work with us now, have worked with us before, or just care deeply about philanthropy. Whichever of those things is true, we want you to know that we would love to hear from you. What needs are you seeing? How are you working to fill them? What hurdles are you facing? Philanthropy has a lot of work ahead of it. But the team at Arabella draws inspiration and strength from collective effort—from working with each other, with our clients and partners, and with people from communities across the country and around the world to build a better future. Perhaps as never before, that work simply cannot wait. There really is no time like the present.

If you have ideas about effective philanthropic responses to COVID-19, or about philanthropy’s new future, we hope you will share them with us.

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