The impacts of the current pandemic reach far and wide. We understand you may be looking for a way to help, even as your foundation itself is likely feeling the consequences of the pandemic and your future may be uncertain. In these difficult times, there are simple actions you can take to support your community. As a trusted local actor, you can serve as a credible source of information and speak with empathy to help slow the spread of the virus, maintain (or grow!) social cohesion and respond to economic hardship.
The following is a short guide to help community foundations respond to COVID-19, as well as examples from local community foundations across the country. Whether you’re an urban, rural, staff or volunteer-run foundation, we’ve compiled a list of tips we believe are important—and accessible—for all.
Community foundations continue to lead the way in responding to this crisis. For the full list of foundation actions amid COVID-19, view our map of community foundation responses to the crisis.
1) Be proactive and transparent about your operational status
Post an update about the measures you are taking and how people can connect with you.
The Stratford Perth Community Foundation shared in a newsletter that their office is closed, that meetings will be rescheduled or done remotely, and staff are available by email. The Community Foundation for Lennox and Addington has an update on its website encouraging people not to come to the office due to social distancing but that they remain open for administrative purposes.
2) Reach out to local partners
Connect with other funders like the United Way, municipalities, and local institutions. If they are establishing a response fund, explore the possibility of partnering or share their message with your stakeholders.
Several community foundations have created surveys to explore their partner needs and sent messaging to partners, including Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, Stratford Perth Community Foundation and Windsor-Essex Community Foundation. As a partnership example, the Thunder Bay Community Foundation has partnered with the local United Way to establish a Thunder Bay COVID-19 Community Response Fund, providing matching funds and encouraging existing fundholders at the community foundation to donate.
3) Amplify public health messaging to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in your community
Community foundations can play a leadership role as a key communicator and resource provider in the community.
4) Lead with empathy and compassion
Reach out to local organizations in your community, those that are working with the most vulnerable, that impacted the greatest during this time. Let them know you are there. Bring your board together via conference call or video call to discuss possible re-directing of grants funds that support the above idea.
The Prince George Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta have both made immediate, unrestricted crisis funding available to local organizations. The Community Foundation of Prince Edward Island is collecting funds for tablets for seniors on the island so seniors can stay connected with friends and family.
5) Use your voice to share stories of kindness, generosity and human spirit
Feature those happening in your community and inspire your audience with those from around the world.
Drayton Valley Community Foundation is sharing messages from local businesses, resources, and messages of hope on its Facebook page. Windsor-Essex Community Foundation has created a “W/E Cares” Campaign to profile local charities to support and share stories. Oakville Community Foundation has shared thoughts on what it means to build community philanthropy in this age of social distancing.