Catalog of Needs and Responses
Using data from our members and partner agencies, Jewish Funders Network is collecting and curating systemwide and sector-specific nonprofit needs, examples of how funders are responding, and available resources. Please note, this is a work in progress, and we are constantly updating these pages. In addition, we anticipate needs to evolve and change as this crisis unfolds. In some cases it is too soon to know the full extent of the need and therefore the appropriate response.
In addition to killing more than 150,000 people around the world so far and threatening hundreds of thousands more, COVID-19 is leaving a trail of economic destruction, with ripple effects in almost every sector. Jewish nonprofits, like their nonsectarian counterparts, must confront multiple challenges at once: increased demand for services, fewer opportunities to generate revenue, and, as the stock market plunges, donors with less disposable income.
While first-responder and health organizations directly confronting coronavirus of course face the most immediate challenges, those that serve people who are elderly, sick and/or in poverty also face monumental challenges, since these constituencies are most vulnerable both to the virus and to its economic impact. But the wider sphere of nonprofits, ranging from Jewish day schools to arts organizations are also at great risk. In addition to the challenges shared with everyone — economic downturn; the need to cancel programs and operations, including ones that generate needed revenue; concern about the health and well-being of employees and volunteers; making payroll and addressing cash-flow needs; adapting from in-person programming, services and workplaces to a remote, online one — they also risk being deemed non-essential or of lesser priority as funders turn their attention to more urgent needs.
Meanwhile, Israel’s nonprofit sector is grappling with an additional challenge on top of the coronavirus and its fallout: The country’s failure to create a stable government over the past year has resulted in a slowdown, if not freeze altogether, of essential government allocations, a critical source of nonprofit revenue, particularly in the human services sector.
JFN is working to map the overall needs, responses and resources in general and by sector. We are also mapping funders’ needs so that we can support them in their efforts to respond as effectively — and quickly — as possible to the vast needs.
What follows is a brief summary of our general findings. Each page (see links at the top of this page) lists in detail the findings specific to each sector. Please note that this is a work-in-progress and very much incomplete — we will continue to update these pages with new information as it becomes available, and we encourage our members to share information with us. Please also keep in mind that it is too soon to know the full extent of needs, and that it’s critical for funders to respond to immediate needs while also ensuring they keep resources available for the long tail of the crisis.
One overriding need in this crisis: To respond effectively, the Jewish community must make full use of its networks, intermediate organizations, national umbrella organizations and coordinating bodies like JFN and the Jewish Federations of North America.
Many funders and foundations say they are either doing or exploring the following: shifting from project-based grants to general support, creating new emergency and rapid-response funds, loosening reporting requirements, allowing already approved project grant funds to be used at the discretion of the grantee rather than for the original purpose, eliminating matching-gift requirements, offering loans and bridge funding and offering technical support to grantees.
They are also stepping up communication with grantees — via emails, phone calls and Zoom calls, emphasizing that they will continue to support the grantees, that they will fulfill all previous commitments even if the grantee is unable to implement specific projects, and asking grantees to tell them what they need. Some foundations are exploring increasing their giving beyond the 5 percent legal minimum and “invading their endowment,” while others report they are recalibrating their investment portfolios to give them more financial liquidity.
Funders, including federations, have reported: new grants addressing food insecurity; distributing pledged payments ahead of schedule; creating a “modest rapid-response grant fund that allows us to provide some immediate financial support to address time-sensitive needs of current grantees.” For example, UJA-Federation of New York announced $34 million in emergency funding, including grants to expand food distribution and support the operational capacity of key human service agencies, Jewish community centers, to assist low-income populations, and to ensure that no Jewish casualty of the virus will be denied a dignified burial.
On April 20, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) launched the more than $80 million Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF), supported by a seven foundations, including the Aviv Foundation, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, the Jim Joseph Foundation, Maimonides Fund, the Paul E. Singer Foundation, and the Wilf Family Foundation, which will operate in coordination with the JFNA. The invite-only program will be divided in two, with a loan program based at the Nonprofit Finance Fund, providing payroll and basic operational assistance for non-profits in the coming months. JCRF’s focus is to maintain the infrastructure of Jewish life that advances Jewish education, engagement and leadership.
Funders are also looking into non-financial supports, such as offers of in-kind services, providing financial planning and scenario-planning advice to grantees, convening a WhatsApp group for grantees to support one another and share information with one another; convening weekly calls with the heads of large grantees/agencies. Another area of focus is lobbying and advocacy to ensure that government resources are available for grantees and that they know how to access them. Toward that end, Jewish Federations of North America developed a website and a series of webinars to help Jewish nonprofits learn about the new CARE Act and how to apply for Small Business and Nonprofit (SBA) loans.
Many are also seeking out opportunities to pool their resources with other funders or to build partnerships. For example, the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego and Leichtag Foundation have partnered to establish a $1.6 million San Diego Jewish Community COVID-19 Emergency Fund that will “gather information about community needs and immediately allocate funds.”
See more in the “News from Funders” section of our Resource Hub.