Philanthropy, Maine & COVID-19

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Dear Maine Philanthropy Center Members and Partners,

During times of crisis, the nonprofit and philanthropic sector is called to step up in extraordinary ways. As Maine begins to respond to increasing confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, Maine Philanthropy Center is calling on our membership to leverage their trusted voices and relationships to act quickly to stem the tide and support individuals and communities who will feel the ripple effects in the near and far term.

Philanthropy, in particular, can play a key role leveraging and quickly distributing resources. This rapid response will save lives. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has released thorough guidance on how our sector can be most immediately effective. In addition to their sound guidance, MPC encourages funders to consider the following:

  • Embrace committed, creative, and increased support – responding to this crisis has required nonprofits to shift and stretch resources in unanticipated ways. At the same time social isolation policies have forced nonprofits to pause service delivery, cancel fundraisers and create remote work systems where there may have been none. Flexible, general operating, and long-term support is crucial to surviving this. Additional investments in existing partnerships builds trust and provides much needed relief during a time of heightened economic insecurity. Below are some specific ways you can leverage your dollars:
    • Support your grantees' ability to work remotely by offering teleconferencing services for free;
    • Lift restrictions on current grants for organizations working with impacted communities, allowing them to redirect resources to respond most effectively and reduce or eliminate reporting requirements for emergency funds;
    • Increase the reach of your dollars by investing in networks and collaborations.
  • Center equity in your decision making – vulnerable, marginalized communities and particularly communities of color are impacted disproportionately by pandemics. The elderly, incarcerated, immigrant, homeless, those with disabilities, and low income are particularly vulnerable to the negative immediate and long-term impacts of this pandemic and so when we act, we must ensure that these communities receive the support and services they deserve. "We are all only as safe as those members of our community who are most at risk." Learn more about equity considerations of COVID-19 here.
  • Invest in long term strategies that work toward justice – Coronavirus has laid bare our broken safety net systems -- inequitable access to quality and affordable healthcare, lack of paid sick leave, food insecurity particularly among school-aged children. All of these issues, and many more, are rooted in broken systems and philanthropy has the unique power to leverage our voice and dollars to shift policy to work toward a more just world. Our immediate response is just the beginning of recovery. Until we build resilient systems that are accessible and equitable, we will continue to confront these same issues with every subsequent crisis.

We’ve included additional resources below and invite you to participate in our first funder conversation on Friday, March 20th from 2:00 until 3:30pm. Dial in information is included below. 

Maine Philanthropy Center is committed to being a resource hub for the COVID-19 response and a bridge to nonprofits and funders. The way through this is in partnership, together. Please let us know how we can continue to serve you in this time. 


Jeannette Andre

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