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  • Lauren Krieg

Philanthropy in the Time of Pandemic

It seems counter-intuitive that in the era of quarantine, crisis, and social distancing, people are finding innovative ways to connect to each other, sometimes even more enthusiastically and regularly than before the crisis began. Existing communities have been strengthened and new ones have formed. This has certainly been the case in the philanthropic/non-profit sector; the speed and vigor at which the human services field has mobilized to confront unprecedented challenges have been remarkable. Within days of state-wide stay-at-home mandates being activated, our sector got to work to organize, prepare, and respond.

How could direct-service agencies that provide safety nets to the most vulnerable and marginalized communities continue to serve their clients, many of whom were already in precarious situations, amidst a pandemic that threatens the health and safety of organizations’ own employees? How could education organizations dependent on their relationship with schools maintain programs when classrooms are empty? How can arts and culture organizations survive when much of their income depends on ticket sales at a time where people are not allowed to gather? All of these questions along with the uncertainty of when the crisis will end and the impact it will have on our daily lives for months and years are weighing heavy on the minds and hearts of the good people of the nonprofit sector.

Speaking of hearts, ours have been warmed by our grantmaking peers. Foundations of all sizes have taken swift action to streamline application processes, remove grantmaking restrictions that would typically be required and allot funds for organizations to use for both emergency support of nonprofit organizations themselves or to provide urgent services to communities due to the impact of the Virus. Organizations have had to, at times, abruptly change their delivery models or adjust their core work in order to meet the unique needs that are emerging. Beyond their own grantmaking, foundations have responded by quickly developing pooled funds with other foundations and public entities to support specific issues such as immigrants and refugees, domestic violence, support of the arts sector and emergency cash for the people of Chicago.

Iris Krieg and Associates staff have been actively involved with much of this work because of the interests and involvement of our foundation clients. It has required a lot of hard work and long workdays, but we feel gratified and fulfilled to be a part of these meaningful relief efforts.

We will be sharing some of these experiences through blog posts and periodically posting news, resources and updates to our webpage. Feel free to reach out to us at any time with any questions.

Finally, on behalf of all of the staff at IKA, we wish all of our clients, peers and friends good health and strength during these difficult times.


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