COVID-19: An opportunity for strategic African philanthropy

If we understand philanthropy as the act of giving for the benefit of others – a practical expression of the Bantu term Ubuntu (humanity) – then the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best across the African continent. Whether it’s African billionaire Aliko Dangote donating half a million dollars to Nigeria’s coronavirus efforts or some of us purchasing canned goods to fill food parcels in our communities, there’s a sense that recovery from COVID-19 is everyone’s business. And although the number of COVID-19 cases is relative low as compared to the global average, Africa’ s high levels of poverty, overcrowded urban spaces and fragile health systems means the region is extremely vulnerable to the spread of the virus.

Click here for more details.

MacKenzie Scott Showers $1.7 Billion on Nonprofits, Mostly Groups Fighting for Equity

MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos, announced Tuesday that she has given away nearly $1.7 billion since last fall to 116 nonprofits, mostly to organizations devoted to equity that are led by women, minorities, and LGBTQ people.

Scott signed the Giving Pledge last year; her ex-husband has not.

Scott is the richest woman in America, according to Forbes, with a net worth of about $62 billion.

She made today's announcement in a post on Medium, where she listed the amounts she's given to nine causes. She also listed the 116 organizations that received the money. "Unless organization leadership requested otherwise, all commitments were paid up front and left unrestricted to provide them with maximum flexibility," she wrote.

Click here for more details. 

Redefining modern philanthropy in a post-Covid-19 world

In the light of the unprecedented need created by Covid-19, NGOs and corporate social investment (CSI) programmes will be looking for ways to best utilise their resources, finances and people to build sustainable, ethical businesses with maximum impact.

The needs, usually met by corporate donations, is exploding with hundreds of thousands of South Africans unemployed. The unemployment rate is expected to rise to 50% and the Department of Employment and Labour has paid out close to R6bn in Covid-related claims.

Click here for more details.

‘These Extraordinary Times Call For Extraordinary Giving’: 12 Leaders In Women’s Philanthropy Speak Out

Over the past several years, we have seen women rising up in all kinds of powerful ways. In addition to the unprecedented surge of women running for office and organizing grassroots movements, women have also been exerting their influence through philanthropy, mobilizing their economic power and resources to create change by giving to myriad causes, campaigns and donor networks aligned with their values.

Click here for more details.

6 Mistakes Philanthropists Make During A Crisis (And What They Can Do Instead)

Crises bring massive social, health and economic uncertainties, along with challenges and hardships. They also unleash unprecedented philanthropic leadership and opportunities for transformational social change.
As a global philanthropy advisor for over 20 years, I see the unique position my clients are in to help
their communities achieve transformational social change. Being an effective philanthropist requires
letting go of what I call “delusional altruism”—all those ways of thinking and behaving that get in the
way of forward momentum. Unfortunately, during times of uncertainty, many of these pitfalls become
our defaults. So, regardless of what we are facing—a pandemic, natural disaster, cybersecurity attack,
or something else—here are six common mistakes philanthropists make during a crisis, and what they
can do differently.

Click here for more details.

Netflix CEO donates towards historically black colleges

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin, announced on Wednesday 17 June that they have given US$120 million towards scholarships at historically black colleges and universities – the largest individual donation to the institutions to date, writes Kristi Sturgill for the Los Angeles Times.

Click here for more details.

Large US Foundations Sell Bonds to Increase Grantmaking by $1.7 Billion Now

Readers may recall that back in March, NPQ began to call on foundations to double their grantmaking to allow the damage and social issues laid bare by the pandemic to be addressed. Some did increase their payouts, and some made statements justifying why they would not do so. Still, a group of foundations known for being very responsive remained relatively silent about any increase in their grantmaking.

But now, in a move that may surprise many, the Ford Foundation has announced it will sell $1 billion of taxable bonds this month, essentially borrowing the money to make additional grants. This essentially will double the foundation’s payout over the next two years, in that Ford made $520 million in grants in 2019.

Click here for more details. 

Philanthropic Leadership Means Following the Frontlines

When we talk about “building the capacity” of frontline and grassroots leaders who are changing structures, policies, and systems, what does that really mean for funders? Many funders use antiquated and static systems of inquiry to identify and make judgements about which groups are well-equipped to achieve social change. The truth is that philanthropy holds a disproportionate amount of power; it serves as a gatekeeper for the resources that belong to our communities. And while the folks most impacted by any given issue—particularly frontline communities of color—hold the solutions and are in the best position to implement equitable systems change, our field continues to struggle with identifying and funding existing capacity on the ground.

Click here for more details.

These Nine Individuals Are Transforming 21st-Century Philanthropy

Sunday, August 11, was the centenary of the death of the world's greatest philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.

The following day (August 12), nine present-day philanthropists were named as recipients of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in recognition of their Carnegie-like commitment to charitable causes.

The medal, which has been given out ten times since 2001, not only celebrates generous philanthropists, but those who espouse the values of the great man.

Click here for more details.

20% of Young People Have Made a Charitable Donation to Address Inequality, Survey Shows

Twenty percent of young people have made a donation to address racial inquality, discrimination, or social injustice, according to a survey conducted around the time protests were breaking out nationwide over the death of George Floyd.

That figure was the same for both whites and other groups, according to a report produced by Cause and Social Influence, which conducted the study of 18- to 30-year-olds. The organization produces research on how young Americans engage with social issues and movements.

That 20 percent rate of giving is roughly double what the research group has found in other surveys in recent years.

Click here for more details.

Help South Africa respond to this unprecedented crisis

The director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa warned that COVID-19 will spread rapidly throughout the African continent if immediate steps are not taken to contain it. While the pandemic poses a daunting threat to the developed world, this will likely pale in comparison to its impact on Africa, where many healthcare systems are much more fragile.

Working with its local partners, the King Baudouin Foundation United States (KBFUS) is launching Emergency Response Funds for several African countries at risk of being dangerously impacted by COVID-19. Each one of these Emergency Response Funds will pool contributions from donors, and distribute their generosity to the nonprofits listed on the country page. These include local nonprofits working on the frontlines of their country's response - disseminating clear and factual information about the disease, working on prevention through access to water and soap, and providing much needed services to the most vulnerable groups, such as the poor and the elderly. Also listed are hospitals that will need additional beds, emergency equipment and basic supplies.

Click here for more details.

Ford and Other Funds Issue $1.2 Billion in Debt So They Can Give More Now

The Ford Foundation and other top U.S. grant makers plan to give away substantially more this year and next with a plan that includes something exceedingly rare: issuing bonds to boost grant making.

The plan also involves the MacArthur, Kellogg, Mellon, and Doris Duke foundations.

Ford plans to issue $1 billion in debt in the form of 30- and 50-year notes, allowing it to distribute at least 10 percent of its assets over the next two years, Darren Walker, Ford's president, said in an interview with the Chronicle. The foundation had planned before the crisis to give about $550 million in grants this year.

Click here for more details.

Philanthropy Is Facing an Existential Crisis (Podcast)

This episode of the Business of Giving podcast features Carmen Rojas, chief executive of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, which helps poor and low-income families

She speaks with podcast host, Denver Frederick, about:

• Incoming CEO of Marguerite Casey on sector challenges

• The need to discuss ideology, power, and politics

• Sector resources can only be effective if the system in which they operate changes

Click here for more details.

How South Africa’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager Can Remain Relevant In A World Of Corporate Retrenchment

One thing I know about the corporate world is that at the end of the day, it is results driven, unforgiving and shrewd. Most of my executive colleagues are studying for this or that course because they know that if they don’t, some junior with a better qualification will become their senior in an instant. The corporate world is driven by results. No matter how unfair Covid-19 has been to business this year, I can assure you that at the end of this year, boards will want results. You know it and I know it.

Click here for more details.

Michiel le Roux donates R100m to Covid-19 efforts

Michiel le Roux, one of the founding directors of the hugely successful Capitec Bank, has donated R100 million to efforts to fight the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on South Africa.

Le Roux joins the ranks of other of the country’s wealthiest citizens such as Johann Rupert and the Oppenheimer family, who days before the lockdown was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, made major commitments to supporting small businesses cope with the devastating impact of the lockdown.

Click here for more details.

How Philanthropy Can Best Support Nonprofits in a Pandemic

The Council on Foundations came together with experts in the philanthropic field to hear about what we can do to effectively support grantees and learn how foundations can build a sector that can weather this storm and future uncertainty.

Philanthropy has begun responding, with promises of future grants, waiving reporting requirements, and providing increased general operating support and overhead allowances. And on March 19th, a group of philanthropic leaders launched A Call to Action: Philanthropy’s Commitment During COVID-19, a pledge to flexibility, listening, and learning with grantees. How can funders put these calls for changed grantmaking behavior and new ways of supporting grantees into action?

Click here for more details.


More than 600 philanthropic organizations have committed to listening to their partners—especially to those communities least heard—and lifting up those voices to inform and influence their decision-making. At the same time, these organization recognize that the best solutions to the manifold crises caused by COVID-19 are not found within foundations alone.

Click here for more details.

Fulfilling Philanthropy’s COVID-19 Pledge: Listening in a Time of Crisis

As COVID-19’s rapid spread has wreaked havoc on our sector, more than 550 foundations (at the time of writing) have signed a pledge to support our nonprofit partners and the people and communities hardest hit by the pandemic and associated economic impacts. The pledge includes eight commitments, ranging from being more flexible with timelines and reporting requirements to converting project grants to general support so that nonprofits can use the funds where they need them most.

Click here for more details.

African and Jewish philanthropy merge to deepen the practice of giving among the youth

There are several African terms that embody the spirit of philanthropy. The South African term Ubuntu has come to mean many things but essentially translates to ‘I am because of you’. The Swahili term Harambee translates to ‘let’s pull together’ and is a popular rallying cry in Kenya. Ujamaa, another Swahili term meaning ‘familyhood’ was the basis for Nyerere’s post-colonial development model in Tanzania. And there are countless Nigerian terms that refer to savings schemes (usually run by women that serve as social safety nets) such as the ajo and susu.

Click here for more details.

The Uncomfortable Paradox of Corporate Philanthropy

The recent $572 million ruling in Oklahoma against Johnson & Johnson for fueling the opioid crisis in the state through deliberately false marketing (and by implication, contributing to the deaths of thousands of people) highlights in a dramatic way how profit motives can bend the moral compass of an organization.

Johnson & Johnson is a deeply philanthropic company, with their stated commitment to putting people first and caring and changing the trajectory of health for humanity. How ironic.

Click here for more details.

6-Step Case Study in Raising $10MM for COVID-19 Relief

It’s easy to feel excluded from grantmaking opportunities during a time of crisis. Perhaps you feel that your mission doesn’t align with the prevailing narrative. Or perhaps you’re worried that you will alienate donors with an ask. Either way, hesitation is causing many nonprofits to miss out.

Don’t let hesitation inhibit your pursuit of grants. Whether you are hemorrhaging revenue or responding to emergency needs, you most likely need large, more flexible grants now more than ever before. However, you can’t approach grants the same way you did before the pandemic. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

Our clients have raised funds during this crisis because they approached donors in a new way. With our guidance, they have combined a vision for going forward and expertise in their fields to instill trust and confidence. This has yielded magnificent results.

Click here for more details. 

Six Ways Philanthropies Respond to Crisis

Six Ways Philanthropies Respond to Crisis

Some are more effective than others.

When the unexpected happens, we all wish we had the presence of mind of a first responder. But first responders aren’t born knowing what to do in an emergency. They train until the most effective responses become automatic. Part of their training also involves recognizing and overcoming weaknesses, so that when called to duty, they’re ready to act.

As a philanthropist, you can be just as ready and capable, even when faced with the overwhelm of a crisis like we’re all in today. It requires self-awareness about how certain tendencies (even in ordinary times) stall your essential work. It also involves setting up your organization to embrace the behaviors that lead, inspire and move the sector forward.

Want to understand where your organization falls on the crisis reaction spectrum? Ask yourself if any of these six behaviors sound familiar and then, if you haven't already, embrace what makes you most effective and leave behind what's holding you back.

1. Your first instinct is to hide.

You’ve been blindsided, and you’re completely overwhelmed. Rather than one of the philanthropists out front making headlines, you’re in retreat mode, unsure of what to do, frozen with fear, a deer in the headlights. But if you let fear take over, and then run for the hills, you exist in a separate privileged reality without the necessary knowledge, connections and relationships to be an effective leader.

2. You're waiting to see what happens next.

Philanthropists aren't known for quick action even during the best of times. One of the biggest reasons is the lack of accountability. So it's essential to recognize and counteract this weakness. Maybe you decide you need to gather more data when you already have the information you need. My friend Andy Bass, a renowned business consultant in England, calls this "planning to start to prepare to get ready for change.” During COVID-19, there are any number of factors and unknowns from technology to government funding that will continue to unfold and impact the sector. But if you hit the pause button you're missing out on change-making opportunities. In fact, waiting on the sidelines is a luxury that none of us can afford, least not your community.

3. You're giving fast.

This is like triage at the hospital. You identify and prioritize the areas of greatest needs and get the money out the door as quickly as possible. Maybe that means additional funding to existing grantees, or funding that helps keep first responders safe. Or you’re helping to shore up local crisis response funds.

4. You're giving differently.

Were you already an adaptive and responsive organization or was this the moment when you realized that many of your internal policies and protocols were simply dead wood holding you back? Either way, you’re removing barriers. Deadlines, funding parameters, applications and more have changed so you can achieve your mission by offering critical and relevant support to grantees when and where they need it most.

5. You're creating new response mechanisms that haven't existed before.

Many community foundations are at the heart of some of these new endeavors creating central crisis response funds. Other philanthropists are recognizing that together with new partners and collaborations they'll get more done. In other cases, foundations are leading with newly minted and responsive supports like webinars and trainings to help grantees surmount technology hurdles and apply for federal loans.

6. You're transforming how you work for more impact now and into the future.

If you’re owning all seven critical behaviors detailed in last week’s newsletter, then you are firmly in active responder mode. These include being agile, adapting, innovating, increasing your speed, clarifying your strategy, executing on your plan, and not sliding back into your old ways.

Regardless of where you fall on the response spectrum, it’s never too late to become a more effective philanthropist. Also, if this is a marathon, we're still in the first mile. Since we grow the most when we’re forced to stretch, in times like these, just asking some key questions can be a powerful way to move forward. “If we could do it all over again, what would we do differently?” Or “What do we wish we’d done before the crisis?” Or “What new practices do we want to maintain?”

If you’d like to dig a little deeper on these and additional concepts, please register for my free webinar: 7 Ways to Increase Your Impact During the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, many of the ideas mentioned here are in my recently-released book, Delusional Altruism. The book offers more in-depth information and examples of ways we hold ourselves back and how to achieve more significant impact in philanthropy.

Whether you are just getting started in philanthropy, want to refresh your giving strategy, or need to catapult yourself to your desired future, I can help. Let’s talk! Call me at +1-800-598-2102 x1, email me at or schedule a call.

© 2020 Kris Putnam-Walkerly. All rights reserved. Permission granted to excerpt or reprint with attribution.




4 Ways I Can Help You During This Crisis

Free Strategy Consultations: For a limited time, I'm offering a FREE 45-minute Zoom consultation to discuss your current strategy and help you determine if it needs to be tweaked, adapted, or completely redone, in light of the new reality we are in. And if you don’t have a strategy, we can talk about how you can quickly create one. There’s no expectation or “pitch” at the end of the call—I simply want to help. I have limited slots, so if you are interested simply click here or reply to this email. I will get back to you within 24 hours (or sooner) so that we can schedule a call.

90-Day Coaching: I'll help you respond, stay focused, and lead through this crisis with a weekly call and unrestricted email access. This is not a regular offering of mine, it's intended to help you not just navigate your philanthropy through the storm but to find sunny skies, and to be part of your support system. Together we can discuss any aspect of your work, such as managing your team and board remotely, identifying and implementing top priorities, developing new approaches and partnerships, maintaining focus, not feeling overwhelmed, and preparing for the recovery. I have limited slots, so if you are interested, write me at to learn more and sign up!

Sentient Strategy®: If this crisis had taught us anything, it’s the futility of spending one year to create a three-year strategic plan. Sentient Strategy is a revolutionary approach to formulate strategy quickly, to be used immediately for as long as conditions warrant, and then to make changes rapidly as conditions change. It builds a flexible, adaptive strategic approach that creates a roadmap for change and holds people accountable for quick implementation. You’ll achieve faster results, and have a flexible template for adjusting course regularly. Sentient Strategy can be developed in person or remotely within a week. Contact me at if you’d like to learn more!

Free Webinar: My upcoming webinar, Giving Resiliently Through The COVID-19 Pandemic, with iWave on May 26 at 1PM ET is for all types of philanthropists—individual donors, foundations, corporate giving programs, giving circles, family offices, and donor-advised fund holders—who are looking for ways not only to navigate through this crisis, but increase their philanthropic effectiveness. Register here.


Philanthropy’s response to COVID-19 now more than $10 billion worldwide

The global philanthropic response to the COVID-19 pandemic has surpassed $10 billion (USD). To put this unprecedented commitment of institutional and individual philanthropy in perspective, the U.S. total alone of more than $6 billion is, according to Candid’s figures, more than double the entire campaigns for 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, Hurricane Harvey, the Ebola outbreak, the Haitian earthquake, and the recent Australian bushfires.

Click here for more details.

ELMA Commits ZAR2 Billion to COVID-19

The world is facing the greatest crisis of this generation: a global pandemic that is poised to devastate Africa if the international community does not take action.
Without an appropriate global response, Africa will have 1 billion cases and 2.5 million deaths related to COVID-19. These staggering figures do not include deaths caused by a related collapse of health and other systems, or the economic impacts on vulnerable communities. Therefore, in order to fulfill the missions of The ELMA Group of Foundations, this crisis has prompted us to escalate our funding in support of the immediate needs of children, families, communities, and countries affected by COVID-19, and over time, to invest in repairing and rebuilding health and education systems, and critical safety nets to meet the needs of children in a post-COVID-19 world.

Click here for more details.

The Grants Management Response to COVID-19: Part 2

Last week, we posted the first report in our series, detailing how grants management is evolving to meet rapidly changing needs. This week, we report on our first Community Conversation, Managing Responsive Grantmaking During the COVID-19 Crisis. It was a record-breaking virtual meeting for PEAK, with 370 members engaged in generous peer sharing and learning.

Transformation is the new normal
Responses to a series of snap polls illuminated the degree of transformation happening in just a few weeks:

Click here for more details.

Americans Giving More to Health Causes Since the Pandemic and Cutting Back on Environment and Education

In the wake of the pandemic, more Americans say they want to support hospitals and health causes. They are holding back on giving to education and environment while continuing to support social services at the same rate they did in the past.

Only 34 percent said they had given to a public-health clinic or nonprofit hospital in the 12 months before the pandemic. Since the coronavirus crisis, 50 percent said they either have given or plan to support a public-health clinic or hospital, according to the poll by Luth Research and the Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences in partnership with the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Click here for more details.

Seven Ways to Increase Your Philanthropic Impact During COVID-19

With every challenge comes opportunity.
None of us would have chosen this moment, but now that it’s here, we’re all forced to respond. We’re navigating new territory in our personal relationships. We’re focused on keeping ourselves, our communities and our vulnerable family members safe. We’re processing too much worrisome news. And, in philanthropy, we’re working for a better world at a time when the Richter-scale of need just shot into the stratosphere.

Click here for more details.