How Philanthropy Can Help Hard-Hit Nonprofits and Businesses During Coronavirus Pandemic

The global health pandemic (COVID-19) has had a profound effect on health and the economy at home and abroad.  From an economic standpoint, coronavirus does not discriminate between nonprofit or for-profit organizations, and as a result, all business owners are finding themselves at risk financially.

The reality is, many businesses will be unable to withstand the pandemic.  That’s why it is now more important than ever for individuals, foundations and other organizations to help the hardest-hit businesses, especially those located in the most vulnerable communities.

Chief Executive Elise Buik of the United Way organization comments, “We had a lot of vulnerable people before this started. They were living paycheck to paycheck. This crisis for me really exposes those cracks.”

Organizations such as the Los Angeles chapter of the United Way have been able to deploy $3.5 million through the first week of April to recipients that included homeless outreach organizations.

While efforts are underway to keep nonprofits and other small businesses afloat during these unprecedented times, philanthropies, and even individuals can do more. If you’re not quite sure where to begin, you can start by buying goods and services now, rather than later.

“Typically, we wouldn’t pay for services that aren’t being used,” says Thomas Kane, Chicago private wealth manager. Kane goes on to explain, “While we can’t crowd into movie theaters, restaurants or other public places, we can help these businesses by paying ahead for the services we’ll need when physical distancing is no longer necessary.”

This suggestion only works on the assumption that a business will still be around after the pandemic, but advance purchases might help enable its reopening.  Gift certificates that can be redeemed later inject cash into businesses, and it’s an easy way to donate and to protect others’ livelihoods.

It’s also important to keep in mind that organizations dependent on fee-for-services programs are not necessarily doomed.  For example, many charities deliver goods and services such as education, summer camps and daycare.  These services can be prepaid, even though you might not get to use them until later.

“Cancellations of in-person programs – professional development, convenings, retreats, trips and more – will adversely affect organizations’ participation and engagement numbers,” says organizers of the philanthropy group the Jim Joseph Foundation and the Paul E. Singer Foundation.

However, despite the financial shortfalls many programs are now facing,  loans and donations being offered through various funding networks could soften the blow for these hardest-hit nonprofits.

Foundation leaders go on to note, “We understand that these types of benchmarks often associated with grants will not be reached and will adjust our expectations to reflect the reality of the times.”

Amid the chaos that has been brought on by COVID-19, there are many ways in which able-bodied organizations and individuals can offer their support to society. From data science companies offering their services to health organizations, to community leaders organizing food distribution centers or donating personal protective equipment, one thing remains certain; we are all in the fight against coronavirus together and together, we will prevail.