Pandemic Philanthropy: Trust Is The Key To Impact During COVID-19
“A month ago, this was just an idea.”
As Cassandra Williams was figuring out how to bring her newly leased Hilltop space up to code for her “Love by the Slice” baking business, COVID-19 hit. And so did community-based inspiration. A friend’s Facebook post alerted Cassandra, a Tacoma native, to the fact that some of her neighbors were in need, with no way to get to the food bank or grocery store.
“I have my space and I can’t bake, so I may as well use it for this right now,” she reasoned. Within days, she had donations from community members, volunteers lined up, and a “box-and-drop” operation streamlined for delivery as “Revive Washington.”
In another week, thanks to friends who directed her to PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED (PCC) Emergency Response funding—an aligned philanthropic response to COVID-19 led by United Way of Pierce County and GTCF—she had $20,000 to hire three staff members and get food to a growing number of people.
“A month ago, this was just an idea,” she says.
“It’s a good time to extend that trust to form new relationships related to the way our community is experiencing COVID-19.”
That’s the power of unrestricted giving, especially in this unprecedented time of crisis, according to Richard Woo, GTCF board member and retired CEO of The Russell Family Foundation, “PCC has brought down barriers such as lengthy applications and complex grant agreements and it acknowledges that the organizations, leaders, and residents closest to the emergent issues and their solutions are best qualified to maximize needed resources.”
A growing number of funders call this approach trust-based philanthropy. “It’s one thing to give an unrestricted gift to a nonprofit you know and trust,” says Stacey Guadnola, GTCF’s Director of Philanthropic Engagement. “But this new reality is highlighting needs we’ve never thought about, as well as nonprofits who are meeting those needs. So it’s a good time to extend that trust to form new relationships related to the way our community is experiencing COVID-19.”
Trust is one of the tips national philanthropy expert Bruce DeBoskey outlines in his article “Giving in the time of COVID-19,” published just as many donors are asking themselves, “How do we best respond locally in this crisis?” He also recommends deepening local giving, keeping an eye on longer term needs, and taking time to “reflect on how we consume, share, collaborate, invest, and give to our near and far neighbors.”
Perennial Tacoma philanthropist Pam Mayer subscribes to the trust-based, local approach, especially now. “You could give from here to eternity,” she says, with respect to the “overwhelming” need COVID-19 has brought to light. Together, she and GTCF’s Stacey Guadnola identified needs that resonated with Pam and put together a strategy for unrestricted funding, beginning with childcare for first responders.
“How is this funding going to improve and serve communities that have not been well served in the past and that are suffering at a disproportionate level now?”
On the ground, that rapid-response funding makes all the difference. “The timing on our $5,000 PCC grant was impeccable,” says Tom Maus, Director of the Harvest House food bank in Graham. “Our stocks were running low and we knew we were not going to meet the increased demand we were seeing” for “PowerPacks” of food for children in 11 area schools. Just as that realization hit, this faith-based organization was able to purchase what it needed to get through the end of school year.
Neither Revive Washington nor Harvest House had received GTCF funding before receiving the PCC grants. According to Richard Woo, crises like COVID-19 call for new vision. “Now is the time to use an equity lens,” he says. “We can all ask ourselves, “How is this funding going to improve and serve communities that have not been well served in the past and that are suffering at a disproportionate level now?”
Cassandra Williams’ PCC funding makes a difference to people in the Hilltop and throughout Tacoma. It allows her to train her staff, “trust them to do their jobs and then continue to work on increasing community awareness and securing resources,” as well as keeping up her “Love by the Slice” business of “curing sweet tooth all over the city.”
For personalized guidance from GTCF on charitable giving in the time of COVID-19 contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce DeBoskey article, “Giving in the time of COVID-19″ (April 13, 2020)
Greater Tacoma Community Foundation COVID-Related Blog Posts
- PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Spotlight: Working Together To Feed Our Neighbors
- PIERCE COUNTY CONNECTED Spotlight: Helping Neighbors Have A Home To Stay Safe
Cultivating our Sisterhood International Association (Fiscal Sponsor for Revive Washington)