Generosity in the Time of COVID
Every American will be impacted, either directly or indirectly, by COVID-19. Over 80% of families include at least one working adult, which means 100% of employers are a critical component of our collective response. Companies and nonprofits — big and small — must dig deep to determine how to best support employees and communities during this unprecedented time.
Start by looking inward.
First and foremost, your actions as an employer can slow the virus’ spread. Set up an environment to protect your team, your clients and customers, and your community. Encourage social distancing, and — if at all possible — have your employees work from home.
That said, we all need social interactions and some normalcy. Create structure for your teams to stay connected. Hold daily virtual check-ins. Set realistic and clear expectations about deliverables. Empower your team to understand how they can meaningfully contribute — it will make folks feel good. Encourage employees to schedule video chats, ideally over lunch or coffee.
Remind your team regularly that their health and safety is your first priority. It matters to hear that from your leadership.
Your broader community needs you, too.
What’s your organization’s superpower? Share it. With school closures occurring at a rapid clip, internet companies like Comcast and Spectrum are making sure students have access to Wi-Fi free of charge. Similarly, Zoom is stepping up so students and teachers can stay connected. What’s even better — you don’t need to be a huge multinational to share your talents. Sammy and Molly Miller (full disclosure, my sibling-in-laws) are bringing together newly out-of-work musicians with newly out-of-school students for an online music masterclass.
Do you have a good or service in high demand? Think about how that resource can be provided to those who need it most. It’s the right thing to do, and — ultimately — good for business.
Nobody in your industry has stepped up? Be a leader. On Thursday, March 5, Microsoft announced that all hourly vendors at the Puget Sound and Northern California campuses would get their usual wage, even if remote work policies and office closures in the wake of the outbreak reduced staffing needs. Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Twitter, and others quickly followed suit. Your organization may not be a tech giant, but budgets and scale are less the point. Everyone has the opportunity to be generous and open-hearted. Set the pace for your sector.
Not sure how to help? Just get started. Some companies have a product or service to pitch in. If that’s not you, there is still much to do.
Can you write a check? Like other sectors, nonprofits will be hindered by COVID-19. Work with organizations in your community (ideally ones you’ve engaged with previously) and help them weather these next few months. Have the ability to make a really sizable contribution? Think about supporting critical scientific advancements like this one the Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard are seeding.
Funding not possible? Find opportunities for in-kind donations and volunteer support. There are infinite ways to help — here are just a few depending on your team’s strengths: Gather hygiene necessities, assist with developing communications, (while keeping appropriate social distance) drop off care packages for weary staff unable to WFH, help navigate a logistical upheaval created by COVID-19 (canceled gala, anyone?), or share upbeat video messages with a nursing home and encourage employees to enlist their adorable kids to help (see aforementioned school closures).
Need ideas? Lean on your in-house experts. If your organization has a CSR department, now is the time to engage them. If not, look to your community people — the ones who wave at everyone in the grocery store, don’t miss a homecoming game, and always know who to call when you need something. They’re ready for this.
Don’t be afraid to borrow. The US Chamber of Commerce has a list of COVID-19 related corporate contributions and Kindred has created a tracker of businesses making “Good Decisions” right now. Take a look, get inspired, and jump in.
Share! Are you up to something awesome? We want to know about it so we can spread the good word. Please leave any details or links in the comments section below or add them to Kindred’s tracker .
Now is not the time to recede, it’s the time to lead. We’re all in this together.
Emily Kane Miller is the Founder and CEO of Ethos Giving, a philanthropic services firm. She also serves as a Scholar in Residence at The Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.