The Wallace Global Fund in Washington, D.C., has announced that it will spend 20 percent of its $100 million endowment in 2020 in support of COVID-19 relief and systemic change efforts and is calling on other foundations to significantly increase their grantmaking in response to the pandemic.
To that end, the fund announced an initial round of grants totaling $1.2 million to nonprofits working to assist marginalized and vulnerable populations disproportionately impacted by the virus, including low-wage workers, individuals and families living in poverty, communities of color, and women facing human rights abuses in the Global South. Recipients include the Poor People's Campaign, the Progressive Multiplier Fund, the Vote at Home Initiative, the Roosevelt Institute, Fight for the Future, the Global Media Campaign to End FGM, NDN Collective, and MADRE. Grants awarded by the fund will support activities such as digital organizing, the diversification of fundraising streams, making voting more accessible for constituencies impacted by the virus, advocacy around government stimulus packages that prioritize people over corporate interests, and outreach to underserved communities. Additional grants will be announced later this week.
The announcement follows an article by Wallace Global Fund executive director Ellen Dorsey and National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy CEO Aaron Dorfman in the Chronicle of Philanthropy calling on funders to commit to spending more, not less, in response to the abrupt cessation of economic activity. Earlier this month, NCRP and eight philanthropic intermediary organizations issued a call to foundations urging them to increase their grantmaking "even if it means dipping into their endowments."
"As the most vulnerable among us lose their jobs, their savings, and their livelihoods, now is no time for foundations to stand by or to shelter endowments that exist to serve the public good," said Dorsey. "Nonprofits are facing drastic drops in government and private support, and this is the moment for philanthropy to be stepping up instead of cutting back. We must give more, both to address the public-health crisis and to fund existing social and systemic change efforts. After the 2008 market collapse, philanthropic gifts dropped by more than 15 percent. That simply cannot be the case again — it is both immoral and a failure to honor the mandate that foundations have to serve society. Philanthropy as a sector must give more, and we must continue to support progressive movements and systemic change even as COVID-19 subsides."
(Photo credit: Poor People's Campaign)