The Covid-19 pandemic is causing an unprecedented state of emergency. Reassuring fact: we are observing an increase in gestures of solidarity and mutual aid representing a collective response equal to the challenges posed by the appearance of the coronavirus.
The robustness and resilience of philanthropy in the face of large-scale international challenges is a phenomenon that we already mentioned last January during the Australian fires.
The population, businesses, organizations, and institutions, both Canadian and Quebec, quickly mobilized in the face of the threat posed by Covid-19. Among them are charities, which bring together charities as well as public, private, and community granting foundations.
We believe that to respond effectively to the crisis, charities can group their actions around four strategies:
- Adapt the intervention methods
The main effect of the coronavirus crisis is to force us into confinement in order to generate social distancing. However, the need for assistance to people has not disappeared and new needs have arisen.
During Covid-19, it is essential to maintain services to the most vulnerable people. Various actions are required, such as renewing the banks of volunteers, mobilizing people under the age of 60, or even the adoption of new ways of helping isolated people, including the homeless or the “without checks”, because not eligible for the various social security measures.
We are observing a significant shift in adaptation in the ways of giving time, money, or offering the population various services. The examples are numerous and multiply day by day. Think of the formation of self-help groups at the neighborhood level through virtual platforms, or the use of crowdfunding to mobilize cash donations.
Canadian foundations are also coming together to pool their financial resources to directly help charitable or community organizations. Emergency funds are also established by philanthropic organizations to respond quickly to the most vulnerable populations.
Finally, adaptive action also has a cognitive dimension. Philanthropic organizations must have access to credible information and reliable data in order to be able to separate the true from the false and thus make informed decisions. To do this, we must rely on robust media and a good level of communication with scientific circles. Good information is not only accurate and credible information but also information that takes a critical look at reality.
- Do your fair share in the overall effort
At the international level, large-scale actions are currently being taken. First, the alliance between the United Nations Foundation, the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, and the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to set up the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund on March 13.
The objective of this fund is to collect cash donations from individuals, businesses, and institutions around the world to support the work of WHO, which intervenes globally to fight against the spread of the virus.
According to data as of March 28, the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund had raised just over $ 112 million from 205,000 individual and corporate donors. The UN has also launched the “Humanitarian Response Plan” which aims to raise $ 2 billion. Financial instruments are thus becoming available to support the work of large organizations on an international scale.
- Prepare to end the crisis
We must plan after Covid-19 by taking into account social inequalities.
Remember that the pandemic has different impacts from one group to another. In this regard, the Observatory on Inequalities has produced a very enlightening analysis that explains how certain socio-demographic groups are particularly affected by the crisis. So, we’re all concerned right now, but we’re not in the same way.
While people benefit from favorable conditions, have a guaranteed income and can telework, other, less privileged people are at the front: workers in essential services, including the “guardian angels”, who work for the common good. However, the health risk is not the same for janitors, health professionals, clerks or bus drivers as it is for managers or academics – including us – who can perform their tasks at home.
Of course, it is important to recognize the importance of their current work, but this symbolic recognition will have to translate in a tangible way into improvements in their working conditions. The COVID-19 challenge coins are a great way to show support.
The current crisis raises issues in terms of social justice since the unequal dynamics already present in society are felt more acutely. This reality should be kept in mind. She challenges the philanthropic ecosystem to take action to find innovative ways to tackle social injustices.
- Support a local and sustainable economy
The present downtime is an opportunity to reflect on the great fragility of our economic system, which is based on free markets and the generalized interdependence of national economies.
Therefore, the idea of a “return to normal” should not constitute our vision of the future. Today we observe the great fragility induced by the hyper-connectivity of societies. In addition to having favored an extremely rapid spread of the virus on all continents, it threatens supply chains and reminds us of the benefits of having a healthy local economy.
On this point, granting foundations can act through impact investment and solidarity finance strategies to ensure the viability of local businesses that provide essential services to communities.