Richard Woo, senior adviser in philanthropy, impact investing & social equity for, sums up today’s philanthropy challenges like this: “We are witnessing an extraordinary moment in the contemporary history of humankind and the life of the planet, natural ecosystems, and those systems created by people are threatened and faltering. The world is changed already by the pandemic.

” Therein lies an opening. In philanthropy, we have an opportunity, a choice, and an obligation to do more than simply witness, but rather to act now to support a bottom-up movement to reinvent systems to be more just, sustainable, and whole.”

This article will highlight advice from experts in fields of philanthropy and nonprofit leadership to suggest ways we can spend our time, money, and energy in response to the coronavirus crisis.

» Everyone can contribute to the upcoming emergency #GivingTuesdayNow campaign. 

The annual day for making charitable donations, called GivingTuesday, usually occurs the Tuesday following Thanksgiving.

However, because of the drastic impact the pandemic is having on nonprofits, an additional effort has been organized called GivingTuesdayNow.

#GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity, set to take place May 5 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

According to the CEO of GivingTuesday, Asha Curran: “Communities are encouraged to take action on behalf of first responders, as well as the other workers: the nonprofits and community organizations that feed, house, educate, and nurture neighbors impacted by the global pandemic. The social sector is in crisis at the very moment the world needs it most.”

On the last GivingTuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, the global giving day generated $2 billion in giving just in the United States, and inspired millions of people worldwide to volunteer, perform countless acts of kindness, and donate their voices, time, money, and goods. 

Noozhawk is inviting local nonprofits to submit a listing in their Nonprofit Guide to Giving. The cost for the listing is $100. Click here to submit your #GivingTuesdayNow Listing.

» Many donors are wondering how best to respond to this crisis.

Bruce DeBoskey, author of the article Giving in the Time of COVID-19 acknowledges that, “For many nonprofits, especially those that provide safety net services, demand has never been higher and is only expected to grow in the coming months.  At the same time, spring fundraising events have been cancelled, and many donors are concerned about their own finances and capacity to give.” DeBoskey gives this advice to his clients at WealthManagement:

  • Give locally. The best place to start is in our own communities where we’re most familiar with the needs, nonprofits, and people.
  • Give more to the nonprofits you already know, believe in and support.  Consider making an additional donation to ensure that your favorite nonprofits will be here when the virus subsides.
  • Support newly created funds responding to the pandemic. Most community foundations, and other organizations have established funds specifically designed to provide aid in this crisis.  
  • Trust nonprofits to choose how to spend the funds. Now isn’t the time to direct how your donations should be spent. Trust your nonprofit partners to direct donated money where they believe it can have the most impact.  
  • Dig deep. Take stock of what you have and need, and, if you’re able to, stretch to give more to others who are more severely impacted by this pandemic. 
  • Anticipate mid-and long-term needs. Although the needs are acute today, they’ll continue to grow long after the immediate health crisis subsides. If you can, create a plan for future giving as well.
  • View this as an opportunity for growth, change and reflection. “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now,” said Martin Luther King, Jr.  Now’s a great opportunity for each of us and our families to reflect on how we consume, share, collaborate, invest and give to our near and far neighbors. 

» Many nonprofit leaders are wondering how best to spend their time during this crisis.

Alex Counts is an adjunct professor of public policy at the University of Maryland and a contributor to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. He suggests the following eight ways nonprofit leaders can effectively spend their time.

  • Schedule one-on-one sessions at least every other week with the dozen or so staff and board members, donors, and volunteers you depend on the most and include a few peers running other nonprofits. 
  • Make a list of “important but not urgent” tasks and projects related to organizational capacity building and efficiency that your nonprofit has kept kicking down the road for months, if not years. Then identify a handful of them to get done in the next 45-90 days despite the stay-at-home orders in effect. 
  • Put a dent in your backlog of articles, books, and podcasts related to your work and the sector in general. Use this time to catch up and perhaps develop new, long-term habits for your own professional development.
  • Organize a competition among your staff members to seek the most creative ideas to cut costs without impairing your organization’s ability to serve its mission, clients, staff, and volunteers. Implement the best ideas, and reward the people who came up with them in a way that is likely to be meaningful to them.
  • Post short weekly videos on your website about what you as a leader are doing during this time of crisis, why the mission is still vital, and how you and others can make sense of this terrifying time.
  • Take your physical fitness and mental health to the next level, even if it’s just in small ways. 

» Philanthropists and foundations are wondering how to make the most of their giving.

Paul Sullivan is the Wealth Matters columnist for The New York Times. In his excellent recent article, he offers the following five strategies for how high-level donors and foundations can give most effectively.

  • Let someone else do the vetting. Bad experiences have taught us to be wary of scammers. That has a knock-on effect for people wanting to give quickly but unsure of the organizations receiving the money.
  • Double down on your regular charities. Money is rushing into coronavirus-related charities, but most other nonprofit groups are lacking in funds, too. Most have canceled their spring fund-raising galas, which can account for a significant part of their annual budgets. Following your normal giving patterns is essential to keeping alive a part of the economy where only the largest entities have reserves for a crisis like this.
  • Speed up your long-term giving plans. Some of the largest gifts are made over several years. Now is the time to accelerate those gifts. For example, one donor had paid out the rest of a six-figure gift to the Y.W.C.A., recognizing that the organization needed the money now. Donor-advised funds have seen their assets swell. The money sitting in these funds is earmarked irrevocably for charity — and it has already been claimed as a tax deduction. But it’s up to the donors to recommend when those grants are made.
  • Be open to bending the rules. Many foundations are loosening or eliminating restrictions on grants and making new unrestricted grants.
  • Use your voice for the greater good. Not all philanthropists are comfortable talking openly about using the influence their wealth buys them to reach politicians. But this is the time for philanthropists to stop being coy about their clout and use it to advance the social good.

Whether you are a donor, a philanthropist, a nonprofit leader, or head of a foundation, now is the time to work together to find creative solutions to the challenges that affect all of us through this crisis.

We can, and must, continue our efforts to create a new vibrant future for everyone’s benefit. Our community, our country, and our world are counting on us.

— Dr. Cynder Sinclair is a consultant to nonprofits and founder and CEO of Nonprofit Kinect. She has been successfully leading nonprofits for 30 years and holds a doctorate in organizational management. To read her blog, click here. To read her previous articles, click here. She can be contacted at 805.689.2137 or The opinions expressed are her own.

— Dr. Cynder Sinclair is a consultant to nonprofits and founder and CEO of Nonprofit Kinect. She has been successfully leading nonprofits for 30 years and holds a doctorate in organizational management. To read her blog, click here. To read her previous articles, click here. She can be contacted at 805.689.2137 or The opinions expressed are her own.