Giving for Covid-19 in first half of 2020 amounted to record-breaking $11.9 billion, but there are gaps


Elika Roohi


$11.9 billion in funding has been given in response to the Coronavirus pandemic this year, according to a new report by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) and Candid. Of the record-breaking sum, proportionately very little of it was explicitly designated for communities of colour, which have been hit hardest by Covid-19 and related impacts.

The report, titled ‘Philanthropy and COVID-19 in the First Half of 2020’, reveals that foundations and individual donors stepped up to meet immediate needs and services arising from the pandemic; however, only five per cent of funding was directed for persons and communities of colour. This echoes a broader trend in philanthropy that was identified by the New York Times earlier this year, in an investigation that found nonprofit groups led by black and Latino directors lag behind peers with white leaders. Since late May, however, Foundations have committed an estimated $5 billion globally to racial justice work – data that would not have been included in the study, which analysed grants for Covid-relief through early July.

The outpouring of funding for Covid-19 in the first six months of 2020 far surpasses any other disaster funding. The report found that Covid-19 funding was more than 16 times the funding that was pledged for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Dorian as well as the Australian bushfires – combined.

‘What differentiates Covid-19 from recent disasters is its scope. Covid-19 is a global pandemic with devastating health, economic, and social implications that have impacted every region in the world. This is an unprecedented crisis, and the philanthropic response has been equally unprecedented,’ said Regine A. Webster, vice president of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP).

Other findings from the report included that corporate giving made up two-thirds of the philanthropic funding, which was led by Google’s $1.2 billion in cash and in-kind support. Among independent foundations, top funders included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Open Society Foundations. For individual giving, the largest commitment was made by Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who committed $1 billion – though in his announcement, he did say that some of the funding would be allocated to other causes in the future.

The report also highlighted some troubling gaps, including that despite many foundations’ commitment to providing flexible support, few awards in the data set were specifically identified as core funding.

‘We have seen incredible generosity since the outbreak of the pandemic,’ said Webster. ‘Yet we in the philanthropic community must push ourselves to give more and give smarter. The economic, social, and health impacts of the pandemic will outpace every donated dollar unless we support the most vulnerable among us.’

‘Philanthropy and COVID-19 in the First Half of 2020’ analyses data from publicly available announcements and direct reporting of pledges, commitments, and grants. It is the first of two reports that will examine the latest COVID-19-related philanthropic data to identify top funders, issue areas, recipients, and other giving trends. The full report is available here.

Tagged in: Covid-19

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