Many of us have been moved to give philanthropically in these unprecedented times. The aim of this post is to help you think about how to support both immediate response efforts and long-term needs that the virus has made even worse.
A little about us: We are not experts on philanthropy, and everyone should respond in the way that feels right for them. However, we are close with folks who have thought deeply about effective and meaningful giving. Last year, in collaboration with Bloomberg Beta, Schmidt Futures, and The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, we convened a group of people at recently-IPO’d technology companies who wanted to use their newfound wealth for good. We called our group First Principles — and we’ve been thrilled to see several members of our group throw themselves into COVID-19 response efforts.
In that light, we would suggest that if you already give to organizations, now is the time to continue your support and, if possible, increase your commitments to them. Many nonprofits are suffering from foundations deferring grant cycles, an inability to host fundraisers, or philanthropic dollars shifting to COVID-specific needs. The organizations you love will feel the effects of this disruption. They depend on your continued support. If you can’t give now, even telling them you will give provides helpful certainty.
Some notes about this list
COVID-19 has shocked an already-fragile economy. Systems thinking matters more than ever — we need to fund both immediate concerns (like ventilators and personal protective equipment), and also long-term change that prioritizes the most vulnerable.
This list focuses on organizations working with those who we think will be hardest hit by the present and looming economic crisis, which is likely to outlast the effects of the virus itself. Communities of color, low-income families, those with housing instability, the differently abled, undocumented persons, and newcomers to the United States will undoubtedly be disproportionately negatively affected by the bottoming-out of the economy.
There are countless organizations doing critical work — this list is in no way exhaustive. These are organizations in which we believe, and that we, or people we trust, recommend. This list is almost entirely US-specific, as we lack expertise in recommending international organizations working on these problems.
Lists like these can be overwhelming — so many options. We recommend choosing 3–5 organizations, perhaps one from each category, and going with your gut.
Organizations and issue areas we recommend supporting at this time
One immediate way to support multiple nonprofits is through Common Future. Common Future launched a $250K COVID-19 rapid response fund for organizations in its national network that support small businesses, social enterprises, and entrepreneurs in economically marginalized communities. Within 72 hours, they received forty-three applications from 20 states, Indian Country, and Washington, D.C., requesting nearly $1.65M and resulting in $1.4M of unmet need. If you would like to contribute to their rapid response fund, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of our favorite organizations working in different areas are listed below.
** indicates that a First Principles community member is actively supporting this organization or cause:
Worker support, and poverty reduction
- **Your local food bank — some food banks are also seeking volunteers at this time (practicing social distancing, while getting food to people).
- Food Chain Workers Alliance — organizing to improve wages and working conditions for all workers along the food chain (plant, harvest, process, pack, transport, prepare, serve, and sell food).
- Coworker.org — helping workers to to start, run, and win campaigns to change their workplace.
Direct cash relief
- **Mission Asset Fund — raising money to directly support low income and immigrant families, small business owners, artists, entrepreneurs, and college students who won’t receive government checks or unemployment benefits.
- **National Domestic Workers Alliance — Coronavirus Care Fund provides $400 cash to domestic workers as immediate relief.
- **GiveDirectly COVID-19 response fund — a perennial top-rated charity on GiveWell, now has a fund dedicated to giving cash to households on SNAP.
- **Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA) — direct cash relief for house cleaners, childcare workers, hotel workers, janitors, fast food workers, etc. who may not qualify for federal relief due to immigration status or other concerns.
Housing and home instability (homelessness)
- Funders Together to End Homelessness — national alliance committed to preventing and ending homelessness in the United States.
- National Innovation Service — convenes partners working on homelessness across the country through policy advocacy and project delivery.
- LifeMoves — supports homeless families and individuals in Silicon Valley. Donations to the LifeMoves COVID-19 Emergency Relief get matched by a group of anonymous donors, Wells Fargo, and Franklin Templeton.
- Destination Home — a public-private partnership serving as the backbone organization for collective impact strategies to end homelessness in Santa Clara County, California.
- NDN Collective — builds the power of Indigenous Peoples, communities, and Nations to exercise their right to self-determination, while fostering a just world for all people and the planet.
- Runway Project — addresses the racial wealth gap for African American entrepreneurs by creating innovative financial products and place-based collaborations to support black businesses from early to expansion stages.
- National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders — a national network of more than 120 institutions for ethnically diverse Latino communities in 40 states and DC.
- First Nations Development Institute — improves economic conditions for Native Americans through financial grants, technical assistance & training, and advocacy & policy.
Epidemic prevention and public health
- **Frontline Foods — support local restaurants and health workers by donating meals which will be delivered to local medical staff, now in 13 cities nationally.
- **Zuckerberg SF General Hospital COVID-19 Emergency Fund — the leading Trauma 1 hospital in the country, treating some of the most difficult cases.
- Silicon Valley Bank COVID-19 Response Fund in partnership with Founders Pledge — aims to stop the spread of COVID-19, support a robust medical response, and mitigate the social cost of the pandemic by providing relief to affected families.
- Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Initiatives, COVID-19 Vaccine — accelerating the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases; called for $2 billion to support the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Center for Care Innovations — cultivates innovation within organizations delivering care and services to low-income people.
- Health Leads — partners with communities and health systems to address systemic causes of inequity and disease.
Personal protective equipment (“PPE”)
(e.g., N95 and surgical-grade masks, gloves, face covers, goggles, and coveralls)
- **Frontline Responders Fund via Flexport.org — via their logistics networks and freight forwarding expertise, Flexport is transporting PPE to frontline responders.
- **Frontline Support — all-volunteer team of 10+ former State Dept-China officials, Apple-Nest folks with experience in China-US procurement, and philanthropists. Pooling $30–50M in capital to help procure tens of millions of units of masks, gowns, ventilators and more in critical medical supplies. Email email@example.com for more information.
- **Open Source Medical Supplies Project — has raised $600,000 of the $1 million they need. In the first 18 days, the group manufactured over 700,000 open source medical supplies, with designs reviewed by medical professionals — especially surgical masks and face shields. This team now consists of over 450 people, including engineers, medical professionals, writers, and moderators. Email Denise to be connected to project funders (Schmidt Futures).
- Project N95 — a national clearinghouse to connect healthcare providers with critical equipment like gowns, gloves, masks, and ventilators.
- Operation Masks — non-profit group created by a group of entrepreneurs in healthcare, technology, and logistics to import and distribute PPE.
- Supply Our Heroes — a volunteer-led effort (including at least one First Principles member) to provide frontline medical workers with equipment. Created using Open Collective as a fiscal sponsor (which is waiving its fees for now on projects people create around COVID-19).
- Helena.org — raising significant sums to purchase large supplies of PPE and distribute them to hospital systems that are most in need.
- **Tipping Point Community — fights poverty in the Bay Area and is raising $30 million to support Bay Area non-profits and people who are disproportionately affected by this crisis.
- Mandela Partners — Oakland organization that works with local residents, family farmers, and community-based businesses to build assets through food enterprises in low-income communities. Mandela is raising a relief fund to provide produce boxes to at-risk community members, among other efforts.
- Pacific Community Ventures — helps small business owners grow and create good local jobs through affordable loans with pro-bono advising.
- Silicon Valley Give Lists (curated by Magnify Community and The Sobrato Family Foundation) — local organizations working in, among others: essential needs, housing and homelessness, impact-lab/data-driven, and social justice.
- COVID-19 Regional Response Fund (Silicon Valley Community Foundation, with support from the San Francisco Foundation) — supports local organizations serving each Bay Area county and efforts to address COVID-19 challenges.
- Rapid Response Fund for Movement Building (San Francisco Foundation) — supports nonprofits working with local communities that have been targeted as a result of their race and ethnicity during COVID-19.
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence — dedicated to supporting survivors and holding offenders accountable.
- California Partnership to End Domestic Violence — California’s domestic violence coalition, representing over 1,000 affiliated organizations.
Food and farm
(offering reliable food sources to the vulnerable, at a time when disruptions to the international supply chain puts national food security at risk)
- HEAL Food Alliance — creates food and farm systems that are healthy for families, accessible and affordable for all communities, and fair to the people who grow, distribute, prepare, and serve our food.
- The Native American Agriculture Fund — provides grants to eligible organizations for business assistance, agricultural education, technical support, and advocacy services to support Native farmers and ranchers.
- Farmer Worker Justice — empowers migrant and seasonal farmworkers to improve their living and working conditions.
Policy, including on stimulus
- Roosevelt Institute — a think tank and campus network that believes in an economy and democracy by the people, for the people.
- **Economic Security Project — catalyzing ideas that build economic power for all Americans including Emergency Money to the People.
- Association for Enterprise Opportunity — a voice of microbusiness in the US, their 1,700 member organizations provide capital and services to assist underserved entrepreneurs.
- PolicyLink — a national research and action institute advancing racial and economic equity.
- **Employ America — making the public and intellectual case for policies that support full employment and building a broad set of allies to further that goal.
Final notes and thanks
If you are personally connected to nonprofits or entrepreneurs, please pass on this great resource from a team at Duke which facilitates searching for new money. There is already $14.5 billion in available COVID-related capital.
A huge thank you to Rodney Foxworth (CEO, Common Future), My Tam Nguyen (Chief of Staff, National Innovation Service), Kim Meredith (Executive Director, Stanford PACS), Ryan Glasgo (COO, Community Credit Lab), and Casey Jarrin (Founder, Live Mind Learning) for their input on this list.
If you would like to contribute to any of these organizations with a significant gift ($25,000 or more), we are happy to put you directly in touch with the organization. Many thanks for your generosity of time and resources.
(Full disclosure: Bloomberg Beta, which Roy leads, is an investor in Flexport and Open Collective.)