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COVID-19 relief funds for not-for-profit organizations

Authored by Kevin O'Connell

As not-for-profit organizations struggle to react to COVID-19, many community foundations have created COVID-19 relief funds. While the funds may not necessarily make up for the full extent of losses incurred as a result of COVID-19, it may provide some relief in the near term to organizations facing cash flow shortages.

The following is a short list of California-based foundations who are in the process of either issuing COVID-19 relief grants or raising funds for future COVID-19 relief grants:

1. San Francisco Foundation 

As the number of people affected by COVID-19 in the Bay Area continues to increase, groups like the  San Francisco Foundation  have stepped up to help. The Foundation has established the SFF COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to provide a limited number of one-time grants, ranging from $3,000 to $25,000, to not-for-profit organizations addressing four specific issue areas:  racial bias, worker protection, homelessness and renter protection/housing security, and food security.

The San Francisco Foundation will prioritize projects that align with the issues outlined above, as well as not-for-profit and fiscally-sponsored organizations in the five-county Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo). To submit your application for a SFF COVID-19 Emergency Fund grant, please go  here.

2. East Bay Community Foundation

The  East Bay Community Foundation  is hosting the COVID-19: A Just East Bay Response Fund to rapidly deploy resources to organizations addressing the economic impact of the broader COVID-19 outbreak. This includes the immediate needs of communities and organizations affected by coronavirus-related closures.

The East Bay Community Foundation recognizes that a thriving not-for-profit sector is a crucial component to the region. Their COVID-19 Fund will initially focus on not-for-profit organizations providing critical services around  economic security. However, the Foundation is committed to supporting the continued health of the broader East Bay not-for-profit sector by raising enough resources to invest in the health and capacity of the sector.

In the first phase, the COVID-19: A Just East Bay Response Fund will provide one-time general operating grants to organizations that provide critical services around  economic security  to the most vulnerable populations in the East Bay. These organizations focus on providing immediate, mid-term, and long-term support related to:

  • Loss of employment and decreased hourly work, resulting in reduced income;
  • Closures of schools and childcare centers (resulting in lost earnings as parents must take time off);
  • Increased health care costs for testing and treatment, and loss of income as individuals take time off for self-care and to care for family members;
  • Food insecurity resulting from lower individual and family income; and/or
  • Reduced access to a range of social services and programs, in response to social distancing requirements.

The East Bay Community Foundation will consult with community partners working on the frontlines, public agencies, local officials, and financial supports to proactively identify grant recipients.

3. Silicon Valley Community Foundation

In efforts to reach tens of thousands of Bay Area residents, the  Silicon Valley Community Foundation  is hosting the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund.

Partnered with trusted organizations in the 10-county Bay Area region, they will provide operating grants to specified organizations who will in turn support the most vulnerable in the Silicon Valley community, including:

  • Residents without health insurance and/or access to sick days;
  • People with limited English language proficiency;
  • Healthcare and gig workers; and/or
  • Communities of color.

The regional fund will provide flexible resources and focus on basic needs, such as housing/shelter, food, clothing and financial assistance.

4. Community Initiatives (Bay Area)

Community Initiatives  is hosting a COVID-19 Coronavirus Regional Response Fund. They are in partnership with the Alameda County Public Health Department and the Office of the Mayor of Oakland Libby Schaaf to protect the health and economic security of vulnerable populations.

This initiative is part of the Bay Area regional response. You can donate directly through the Community Initiatives  website.

5. California Community Foundation

In response to the growing number of cases in Los Angeles County and drastic measures put in place by the government to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, the  California Community Foundation  launched the COVID-19 LA County Response Fund.

Effectively, the Fund relies on donations from the public and distributes them to 501c3 not-for-profit organizations that serve communities and individuals affected by COVID-19. The Fund aims to support community needs identified by leaders in health, housing, education and immigration. It will also aid impacted individuals through the Foundation’s  Pass It Along Fund.

As of March 24, the 1st round of grants distributed $1.7 million to address the immediate needs of youth, homeless, immigrants, uninsured & under-insured. Read more about the 1st round of grants  here.

6. Charitable Ventures (Orange County)

In Southern California,  Charitable Ventures, OC Grantmakers, the Orange County Community Foundation and the St. Joseph Community Partnership Fund partnered to launch the OC Community Resilience Fund.

The goal is to quickly and strategically deploy funds to tackle the growing impact of COVID-19 on the county’s most vulnerable communities. As of their most recent update, the Fund has now reached $2 million in contributions from the public.

The OC Community Resilience Fund will provide three types of grants to community providers:

  • Funding to support  community clinic operations  for the purpose of providing preventative and medical services to those affected by COVID-19.
  • Funding to support  emergency grants to individuals  affected by COVID-19 due to quarantine, business closures and/or lay-offs, school or other community program closures.
  • Funding to support  community-based organization operations  for not-for-profits serving vulnerable populations. The organizations must present a clear case of direct impact due to the pandemic. Support may also be given to not-for-profits who have seen detrimental impacts to their fiscal and administrative operation as a result of a loss of revenue, fundraising or staffing.

Not-for-profits seeking funding must demonstrate their capacity to serve Orange County’s most vulnerable and marginalized communities, including:

  • Veterans
  • Low income seniors
  • Households living under the poverty line
  • Immigrants and refugees
  • Homeless
  • Children ages 0-5
  • School-aged children, youth, and families
  • People with disabilities
  • Uninsured

For more specific information related to the available grants, please visit  here.

7. San Diego Foundation

Together a coalition of philanthropy, government and business partners created the  San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund. The primary objective of the Fund is to rapidly distribute flexible resources to community-based organizations at the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak in San Diego County.

Through donations, the Fund will make emergency grants to not-for-profit organizations that have deep roots and strong experience supporting impacted communities, particularly those that are disproportionately affected by this global pandemic and its economic consequences.

Grant funding will focus on specified critical areas, including: food security, other essential living expenses, emergent needs, rent and utility payment support, and interest-free loans for not-for-profit organizations. Local government, health agencies, nonprofits, businesses and other community partners will determine the recipients of the grants. The Fund will complement the work of public health officials and help expand nonprofit capacity.

The list above is only a listing of foundations that we are aware of as of today and is by no means all-inclusive of all entities providing COVID-19 relief grants.

Disclaimer: This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional tax planner or financial planner. All information is provided “as is,” with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information.

Kevin O’Connell

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