SVCF's Gina Dalma, pictured above holding microphone, speaks with a group of nonprofit representatives in early 2020 at the Redwood City offices of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
SVCF has joined 700 foundations across the country to sign a pledge of action from the Council on Foundations that holds us accountable to supporting nonprofits through the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During these difficult times, many nonprofit organizations have had to quickly scale up their operations to meet increased service demands, often while working with fewer volunteers and while caring for their own staff members. In addition, many of these organizations are scrambling to adjust to significant revenue losses due to fundraising and event cancellations. Nonprofits need flexible resources – and they need them fast if they are to continue operating.
As a community foundation, we are also called upon to be flexible and agile enough to serve the nonprofits on the front lines of this crisis.
The pledge we’ve signed outlines our commitment to being as flexible and accessible as possible to our nonprofit partners, which includes loosening restrictions and requirements on grants and fostering more dialogue and better communication. We are proud to stand with other philanthropy leaders to support nonprofits and enable them to continue their essential work in our communities.
We pledge to:
- Loosen or eliminate the restrictions on some current discretionary grants. This can include: converting project-based grants to unrestricted support; accelerating payment schedules; and not holding grantees responsible if conferences, events, and other project deliverables that must be postponed or canceled.
- Make new grants as unrestricted as possible, so nonprofit partners have maximum flexibility to respond to this crisis. We will also support organizations created and led by the communities most affected that we may not fund currently.
- Reduce what we ask of our nonprofit partners, postponing reporting requirements, site visits, and other demands on their time during this challenging period.
- Contribute to community-based emergency response funds and other efforts to address the health and economic impact on those most affected by this pandemic.
- Communicate proactively and regularly about our decision-making and response to provide helpful information while not asking more of grantee partners.
- Commit to listening to our partners and especially to those communities least heard, lifting up their voices and experiences to inform public discourse and our own decision-making so we can act on their feedback. We recognize that the best solutions to the manifold crises caused by COVID-19 are not found within foundations.
- Support, as appropriate, grantee partners advocating for important public policy changes to fight the pandemic and deliver an equitable and just emergency response for all. This may include its economic impact on workers, such as expanded paid sick leave; increasing civic participation; access to affordable health care; and expanded income and rental assistance. It should also include lending our voices to calls to action led by grantee partners, at their direction and request.
- Learn from these emergency practices and share what they teach us about effective partnership and philanthropic support, so we may consider adjusting our practices more fundamentally in the future, in more stable times, based on all we learn.
SVCF has launched a Regional Nonprofit Emergency Fund to help nonprofits receive financial relief during this crisis. The fund, hosted by SVCF in partnership with our community foundation colleagues across the region, provides flexible operating support grants of up to $50,000 each to nonprofit organizations serving one or more of the 10 counties in the Bay Area.
As a commitment to our region’s nonprofits and in line with our pledge, we have simplified the application process and reporting requirements to minimize the burden on our grantees, helping them secure financial resources more quickly and ensuring the continuity of their services. As of April 20, 2020, SVCF has granted $2.7 million to more than 121 nonprofits in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
If you are a San Mateo County or Santa Clara County nonprofit that has faced financial and operational disruptions caused by COVID-19, learn more about how you can apply for the Regional Nonprofit Emergency Fund here.