Heightened tensions, widespread fear, and aggressive precautionary measures have become the new normal as the world reacts to the global coronavirus pandemic. After reading Bill Gates’ piece on how the world should respond to coronavirus, it’s clear that billions of dollars will be needed to fight this pandemic, but only a fraction of this funding has been pledged thus far.

As the Center for Disaster Philanthropy states, all philanthropists can be disaster funders. As of March 5, the philanthropic community has committed over $1B globally, with over 95% of all pledges coming from corporations and their foundations. This is an impressive sum and should be commended – however funding will need to be scaled up tremendously and rapidly to meet current needs.

The philanthropic community needs to meet the unique challenges created by coronavirus and continue supporting community partners’ responses to coronavirus and its spread. These large-scale funding needs include bolstering supply chains for medical supplies; developing innovative approaches to testing, treatment, and prevention (like drive-thru testing in South Korea); protecting the most vulnerable populations from infection; and ensuring that cost is not a barrier to anyone seeking testing or treatment.

For smaller-scale, more localized philanthropy, see below for coronavirus-related funding strategies that you can utilize as a corporation or a family foundation.

Low Commitment

  • Sponsor prevention supplies for local community partners. Hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies are needed now, more than ever. However, purchasing these can be a barrier for community partners that have limited emergency funding available. Reach out to your local schools, libraries, and community organizations and offer in-kind donations when needs arise.
  • Support the operation of organizations that serve as a community safety net (e.g. food pantries, housing assistance, and credit counseling services.) When people can’t work, they will be even more reliant on these community-based services.

Medium Commitment

  • Lend the services of your communications team to nonprofit partners. Misinformation is rampant, and the burden can fall on nonprofit partners to disseminate accurate, culturally appropriate information to the communities they serve. Helping partners craft this messaging can reinforce education, reduce stigma, and improve community resiliency.
  • Sponsor licenses for teleworking services that facilitate virtual collaboration and team meetings. Organizations that do not have access to these services may have difficulty operating in the event of a quarantine.

High Commitment

  • Create an income-replacement fund to help employees of vulnerable organizations and small businesses recover lost wages. If quarantines affect your community and workplace, employees will be forced to work from home. For jobs that cannot be done remotely, employees may have to depend on limited paid leave or go without a paycheck for days, if not weeks.
  • Create a paid sick leave “bank.” By empowering employees to donate their accrued paid sick leave to a company-wide pool, employees with limited paid sick time will be able to utilize this donated time, without sacrificing a paycheck, in the event of a quarantine.