COVID-19 is like nothing any of us has ever experienced. Regardless of your field of interest or areas of funding, it is upending how we operate as funders and as a society.
To paraphrase founding father Thomas Paine, these are indeed times that try our souls. Each day we are challenged with caring for our families, supporting our communities, and, all too often, being called upon to make difficult funding choices. The concept of too many worthy causes and not enough funds is probably never truer than today.
Whereas we will never tell you what to fund or how much of your assets to deploy, I will share that I believe this is the proverbial “rainy day” for which we always seem to be saving. This is our moment as funders to step up and make a difference.
If not now, when?
As a foundation trustee, I find myself in the same spot as so many of you. I’ve had some restless nights thinking about how lucky I am to have a home to live in, food available, and medical care should I need it, while at the same time so many in our society lack that which I take for granted. COVID-19 increases my recognition as well as anxiety about that difference.
As I wrestle with decisions, I’m thankful to be part of our Exponent Philanthropy community. In these past weeks, I have learned much from so many of you. Hearing your stories of bold moves and quick actions has inspired me in my personal and foundation giving.
Thank you for sharing so we all may learn.
We are living through a dynamic situation. The virus, response, testing and treatment options, as well as community needs are constantly changing. Today’s great idea may be tomorrow’s less desirable approach. Please don’t let that freeze you into inaction. Rather, remain tuned to your community and trust your best judgment.
All of us on the staff, while working remotely from our homes, are here to help you. If you have questions, need direction to resources, or just want to chat with someone about your funding in these days of isolation, we are here.
Our members’ readiness to connect is among our greatest strengths.
Do continue to join our weekly funder discussions each Friday at 2PM ET to hear how others are responding to COVID-19—and share your actions and ideas.
Henry Berman became Exponent Philanthropy’s CEO in 2011, previously serving as acting CEO, board member, and committee member. Through his experience as a foundation co-trustee and Exponent Philanthropy member since 2003, he brings a firsthand understanding of the needs of members to his role.