European infrastructure bodies Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE) and the European Foundation Centre (EFC) have released a statement on COVID-19, offering reassurance that the philanthropy community stands ‘together during this testing time’ and brings a ‘spirit of European solidarity to this worldwide crisis’. The statement is open to signatures, and so far 24 leading foundations across Europe have signed on, including Portugal’s Calouste Gulbenkian, Spain’s “la Caixa” Foundation, and Switzerland’s MAVA Foundation.
‘We are committed to being good partners and a source of meaningful support during the coming weeks and months so that civil society groups can focus on the vital work of supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities,’ the statement reads.
‘We understand that there will be times when staff and volunteers will not be available, when beneficiaries may need services to be provided in different ways, or when systems need to be flexible to ensure that needs are met.’
Those who sign onto the statement have committed to four lines of action to support services, organisations and those who receive grant funding from any of participating members that are affected by the outbreak. These include adapting to changes in outcomes that were previously agreed upon; flexibility with dates and deadlines; flexibility with financial agreements if money needs to be allocated elsewhere in the budget; and listening – ‘we are here if you want to talk to us about the situation you’re facing,’ the statement reads, ‘but we’ll wait for you to call us so that these conversation are at the right time for you’.
In addition to committing to these four lines of action offering flexibility to grantees and organisations, foundations are looking at ways to allocate financial support. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, one of the statement’s signatories, has already established a COVID-19 Emergency Fund with an initial amount of €5 million, to strengthen the resilience of society in the face of the global pandemic.
“In a period of exceptional gravity, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in honouring its mission, is strengthening its activities as a contribution to combat the pandemic that jeopardises the continuity of society as we known it,” said President of the Foundation, Isabel Mota.
This European initiative follows a similar one in the United States spearheaded by the Ford Foundation and the Council on Foundations. The US-initiative has attracted more than 100 major American and international foundations that have pledged their commitment to flexible funding to meet emergency needs prompted by the COVID-19 crisis.
As of today, the organisations that have signed on include Barrow Cadbury Trust (UK), CAF Charitable Foundation for Philanthropy Development (Russia), Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) (UK), EUROPA NOSTRA (Netherlands), European Cultural Foundation (Netherlands), European Foundation for Philanthropy and Society Development (Croatia), Finnish Cultural Foundation (Finland), Fondazione ASM Brescia (Italy), Fondazione Charlemagne onlus (Italy), Fondazione Comunita Salernitana (Italy), Fondazione CRT (Italy), Fondazione Ravasi Garzanti (Italy), Fondsen in Nederland (Netherlands), Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Portugal), Global Fund for Community Foundations (South Africa), “la Caixa” Foundation (Spain), Le Quattro Stelle Foundation (Italy), MAVA Foundation (Switzerland), Mozaik Foundation (Bosnia and Herzegovina), National Foundation for Civil Society Development (Croatia), Nesta Italia (Italy), Open Society Foundations (Germany), Stavros Niarchos Foundation (Greece), Van Gendt Philanthropy Services (Netherlands).
To sign the statement, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.