(Courtesy photo by Conrad Benner, Streets Dept)
This story is part of TRACE (Toward Response and Community Equity), a year-long series that will track how and where the region’s government, philanthropic, civic and private sector is working toward a more just recovery.
How has $40 million in COVID-relief philanthropy throughout the 10-county Greater Philadelphia region been distributed?
The short answer: about 60% of the funds have gone to Philadelphia-based nonprofits most of whom received a one-time grant with an average size of $8,211. In turn, the recipients primary focused on economic activity, education, health, arts and culture as well as housing issues, according to research from the Center for High Impact Philanthropy (CHIP).
CHIP has just released these findings from its COVID-19 Response Dashboard. The dashboard is one of the first efforts to collect grant data from numerous pooled giving funds mapped against demographic and economic data, and share it publicly.
Kat Rosqueta, the founding executive director of CHIP, said that giving from the participating response funds represented the majority of giving in the areas. She added that a data-informed view of the region’s philanthropic response to COVID-19 would better enable the donor community to determine, “where need exists, and where gaps remain.”
The dashboard was developed by the Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia, which is focused on helping donors maximize their social impact, in partnership with the CHIP.
“COVID-19 has exposed the need to collect better data to ensure the equitable distribution of resources to address community needs,” said Sidney Hargro, president of Philanthropy Network.
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The data was provided by 13 COVID-19 philanthropic response funds in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. It revealed that almost 5,000 grants totaling $40 million dollars were awarded between March and June.
“This dashboard was created to help understand how resources in the region were prioritized in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as inform future grantmaking as it relates to the region’s recovery,” said Hilary Rhodes, director of evaluation and learning at the William Penn Foundation, which, along with the Lenfest Foundation, provided support for the dashboard.
Seven months after the pandemic hit the country, 7.5 million people including President Donald Trump, have been infected with the virus, and 210,000 have died including the just under 2,000 deaths listed on the City of Philadelphia’s website. The need for philanthropic response has not yet abated.
“With this new collective data, we have a clearer sense of how funds across the region were allocated and can hold ourselves accountable to ensure grantmaking is distributed equitably in the future,” Rhodes said.
In late September, the PHL COVID-19 Fund announced its eighth round of funding totaling $400,000. Since March 19th the fund, led by the Philadelphia Foundation and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ), has awarded almost $18 million divided into 575 grants to keep mission-critical non-profits afloat.
Even smaller funds, like the Emergency Relief Program of Theatre Philadelphia which provides microgrants of $300 – $500 for local, working artists, see no decline.
“As of September 14, we have given out 474 grants and have enough left to give around 240 more, said LaNeshe Miller-White, Theatre Philadelphia’s new executive director. “With no sign of COVID-19 slowing to allow for in-person productions to be safe at the level the industry is used to, we do imagine that the Emergency Relief Program will continue to support artists and that we’ll do additional fundraising for the program,”
Based on the recent report, CHIP suggested ways that funders could strengthen their preparedness for the next crisis:
- Develop a common crisis grantmaking application. This ready-in-advance application could be used by all shared funds to improve coordination and targeting of what will always be limited philanthropic funds.
- Develop an automated tool for importing applicant data in real time. This feature would give participation funds the benefit of current information for planning.
- Develop a minimum data standard. Asking for a minimum, standardized set of data will facilitate reporting for nonprofits and allow for better collaboration and sharing among funders.
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