Strategic Disaster Response & Relief: 5 Strategies to effectively address immediate and emerging needs of Coronavirus (COVID-19) through philanthropy

The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is dominating media headlines. You may even have already been personally impacted by disruptions to your everyday life. Although the situation is changing rapidly, organizations like yours can’t hesitate when it comes to strategic disaster response programs.

While still in its early days, there’s no question that charitable fundraising programs are beginning to take a hit. Fundraising events are being cancelled at an increasing rate, which will have a very real impact on short term fundraising and cash flow for many nonprofits. 

As volunteer hours wane, there will be an impact to nonprofit operations and a downstream hit to dollar for doer grants. Specific nonprofit organizations with direct responses to the situation are facing massive outlays – such as personal protective equipment, supporting quarantined individuals, and bolstering taxed local health resources. The broadening concern around the situation, coupled with the multi-faceted implications of global equity market issues, will impact various donation channels including personal giving, associated matches and corporate giving. The CDP and its partners at Candid are tracking philanthropic donations to this outbreak. As of March 6, the total donations received stood at more than $1.3 billion. Read more about who is contributing, and where and how this compares to other disasters.

Mobilizing your resources in a time of uncertainty can be overwhelming, but there is no time for hesitation. As partners in your mission, CyberGrants is here to empower you to respond quickly, leveraging existing community partnerships, and creating impact in a sustainable way. All the while, allowing you to address immediate and emerging needs with speed, flexibility and expertise. 

Philanthropic organizations have the unique ability to be flexible, be fast and meet needs squarely where they are. Speed is critical to any disaster response effort. Don’t wait - efficiently distribute funds and resources wherever the need is most critical. Ensure you have the programs in place to support containment and mitigation efforts, and basic human needs including psychological support for those impacted. 

Here are 5 strategies to help you effectively respond to COVID-19.

  1. Encourage Personal giving: Consider adopting or expanding personal giving programs. Credit card donations can facilitate giving and the option to remove Nonprofit matching gift approvals is available.
  2. Consider Stabilization or Recovery Grants: new unrestricted grant(s) to nonprofit partners to assist them through this challenging time.
  3. Reassess In-Kind Giving: Do existing nonprofits need something different that you can offer, and or are there other nonprofits out there that need your support.
  4. Delay Impact Reports: nonprofits may experience a reduction in operation capacity. As you check in with your nonprofit partners, consider shifting reporting requirements to enable them to stay focused on their mission through the operational disruption.
  5. Direct Support to Featured Organizations: Consider new grants or gifts to nonprofit organizations directly involved with the response. Representative nonprofit organizations include:

Lasting sustainability and scalability is critical to the impact of your disaster response programs. You and your team are in a position to provide vital support, funding and resources where they are needed most. Uncertainty and disruptions as a result of coronavirus are already being experienced. Your organization can help mitigate with direct giving, granting and maintenance of community lifelines and safety nets.

Still not sure how to respond and help your community deal with COVID-19? Here are some considerations for disaster response programs and how you can identify needs.


  • How can we alleviate pressures that will come from social distancing such as lost wages, medical needs, etc?
  • Who is at risk for inadequate preparedness, not everyone can afford several days worth of supplies or medication?
  • Have you identified community safety net food pantries, housing assistance, credit counseling and income replacement programs?
  • Have you reached out to state and local health departments for local conditions and additional considerations?
  • Are there alternative resources you can offer, such mental health lifelines to help communities cope with traumatic events?
  • Do you understand the emerging stigma and how it has created new socially vulnerable populations?
  • Can you support small businesses, the backbone of the community, through tech assistance for continuity plans & emergency grants/loans to sustain payroll are key?
  • Are you allowing local leaders and organizations on the ground to develop the programming as needs arise?
  • Have you acknowledged the multiple phases and needs in this crisis - the medical response situation, support for research and assisting vulnerable people who have been impacted?
  • Are you being thoughtful about your funding plans and refraining from reacting to the latest media report?
  • Do you have the facts? There is a lot of bad information out there, be sure to check WHO and the CDC for the most updated information.
  • What is your plan for international giving?

Are you ready to mobilize your resources and activate a multi-faceted Disaster Response Program?
Contact us now to discuss how you can leverage the CyberGrants platform for rapid and effective response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) or other disasters.


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