Pandemic philanthropy: A Q&A with Caira Woods about how nonprofits are handling the high demand for, and supply of, charitable giving

Caira Woods

Back in May, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made a $9 million grant to the United Philanthropy Forum. Can you give us an update?

The goal of our grant was to build the capacity of local funders, philanthropic-serving organizations, and community-led nonprofits that are currently supporting other nonprofits through their COVID-19 emergency funds. Since the pandemic began, we have watched many of these organizations be overwhelmed with donations that help alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 while grappling with the same challenges faced by the rest of us: Figure out how to do their work (and everything else) virtually while staying safe and taking on additional responsibilities at home.

To lend our support, we partnered with the United Philanthropy Forum. They created the Momentum Fund that distributes resources with a specific focus on communities most impacted by the ongoing public health and economic crises: Black, Indigenous, and other people of color.

Nearly 760 organizations applied for support, and the Momentum Fund announced it has awarded $8.5 million in grants to 129 of those organizations. The grantees are from 31 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They include women’s foundations, community foundations, local United Ways, and community-led nonprofits, many led by members of the communities they serve.

Soon, the Momentum Fund team will launch a community of practice. This will allow its grantees to connect with one another and learn about best practices in managing COVID-19 emergency funds.