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 to killing hundreds of thousands of people around the world so far, 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 is still recovering from a lengthy period with no government, and the ensuing slowdown 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 (JFNA).
As JFNA noted in a July update on business continuity issues for major Jewish communal networks:
In general, if the early stages of response by all the organizations could be described as a very long and intensive sprint, everyone is repositioning to address what is now clearly a marathon … Most national networks have been through layoffs and furloughs at both the national and local levels, some because of immediate impacts on their revenue and others because they are planning for what they anticipate will be an exceedingly difficult year ahead. Some organizations have had to react to both factors. SBA Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans were accessed heavily across these networks and bought valuable time for the national organizations and their local affiliates to sustain key staff and enable the organizations to plan more thoughtfully for the year ahead. JFNA estimates that about 1,300 Jewish organizations received PPP loans totaling more than $512M.
As of July, the Jewish communal workforce was estimated to have contracted by about 20 percent since the beginning of the Covid crisis.
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.” As of December 2020, UJA-Federation of New York had allocated $64 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.
In April, 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 is 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. In July, JCRIF announced it had made $10 million in grants to more than 20 Jewish organizations, as well as $20 million in no-interest loans, with $20 million more in loans under consideration. More details about JCRIF, including a JFN webinar, here.
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 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.”
In July, JFNA reported that:
In addition to accelerating already planned campaigns, Federations launched emergency campaigns and drew from endowments to inject a total of $175M in additional funds into the 146 Federation communities during the first three months of the crisis. They also took active roles in helping their community organizations to access the federal PPP loans and the private JCRIF loans.
JFNA also reported that Federations:
have played very strong convening roles in their local communities, and many have marshalled extensive additional resources to sustain local community services and long-standing overseas commitments. Federations are now increasingly focused on how to develop and manage complex community development and planning processes to help reshape the local communal landscape given the anticipated hard times ahead.
See more in the “News from Funders” section of our Resource Hub.