As the scale of the Covid-19 crisis continues to evolve and emerge so too the scale of needs to adequately respond are appearing increasingly overwhelming. While government must shoulder the primary burden of response, they cannot do it alone, we are all in this together.
All sectors of society have been impacted but it is the most vulnerable who are at greatest risk. The not for profit sector, champions of the marginalised and the vulnerable, is under unprecedented pressure. Charities are facing a funding crisis, immediate estimates in the region of €380m, at a time when much of their charitable activity is needed now more than ever before.
There are no clear answers. We are all struggling to find our way. While immediate crisis needs emerged quickly, the full landscape remains largely unknown as the situation remains fluid.
What we do know is that without significant increase in support and resources, many of our not for profit organisations will need to either cut back on services or ultimately may need to cease operations. Either outcome will severely impact our society, economically and socially, with potentially serious repercussions on vulnerable communities.
So, how has philanthropy responded? Many of our own members, philanthropic organisations such as The Community Foundation for Ireland, The Ireland Funds and basis.point set up Covid-19 Response Funds, with more initiatives underway. In seeking to provide critical response funds, they pivoted from being strategic donors to being tactical, engaging on immediate needs.
Corporate funds, such as the AIB €2.4m Covid -19 research support or the Bank of Ireland €1m Community Fund, provide significant support for tackling both long term change and urgent needs. We have seen collaborative and multifaceted responses such as that of Medtronic, sharing insights on ventilator design from their Galway plant, while their Foundation committed $10m in worldwide support.
Many individual donors are quietly stepping in supporting causes they are close to while others are open in their funding responses. Public responses may inspire others. Either way, at a time when donors are likely somewhat overwhelmed by requests for support, their engagement in giving is both critical and welcome.
But so much more is needed, most particularly in the coming weeks and months as the crisis continues to unfold. We do not know how the external environment will manifest itself. We do not know what our reality will be. So, we need to remain open. In such uncertainty, philanthropy can play a real role.
We encourage all who can — companies, individuals, families and all funders, to give at this time of critical need. Increase your giving if you can. Work with or through organisations who are already grant making, such as our own members. Or provide direct support to the non-profits you know and are concerned about, those you have worked with, those you wish to help directly.
It is a long game, but we are truly all in this together. Let’s give what we can together, to both protect and rebuild our society.