*This post originally appeared on Exponent Philanthropy's Blog.
As another week unfolds and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to dominate headlines and impact commerce, government, schools, businesses, and the world economy, we in the giving sector are in no way immune from its impact.
Serving Our Grantee Community
Although many of us in the Exponent Philanthropy community work individually or with only a handful of people, those we support often do not. Whereas many funders may be able to minimize contact with others (and the possibility of contracting or spreading the virus), our grantees and those they serve may not have this luxury.
Often those served by our grantees are people on the edge of society: those who are unhoused, elderly, undernourished, under-resourced, and perhaps even unaware of the virus and its potential harm.
Let us all act in a manner that demonstrates we are our grantees’ partners and not just funders.
There is rarely a bad time to check in with those you support, but now would be an extremely good one. Ask how the virus may be affecting their work. Inquire if there are ways you can be helpful. You may learn their facility needs extra cleaning or they have staff on extended sick leave. Now may be the time to advance a future grant or support them with additional funds.
Clearly, a consequence of the Coronavirus is a drop in the stock markets and overall economic volatility. For some, it may seem like the time to conserve your assets and pull back on your giving. I understand that sentiment, but I urge you to think about the consequences of not providing extra help where needed, as this has the potential to literally be a case of life or death.
This is not a time to be passive.
We have postponed our March Journeys to Equity program in Portland out of an abundance of caution, but we remain committed to serving you in other ways. We also hope you will continue to engage with one another. Our online discussion lists offer a forum for sharing knowledge and concerns, as do our peer circles, Q&A service, and rich library of online resources.
I hope you will fully use your membership in the weeks and months to come, and do so in good health.