On Friday, May 1, Exponent Philanthropy hosted a fifth live discussion for lean funders to share how they are responding to COVID-19. We will continue to host these discussions every Friday at 2 PM ET to give all lean funders the opportunity to connect around their responses. We are also compiling COVID-19 information and resources relevant to lean funders.
Lean funders are responding to COVID-19 in varied ways, while recognizing the virus, response, testing, treatments, medical supplies and community needs are ever-changing.
On May 1, funders discussed:
Having an investment plan
Foundation investing can be daunting in the best markets. And market volatility has increased drastically with COVID-19, making investments even more challenging for many.
Funders shared that it’s as essential to have an investment plan (and to stick with it) as ever. Investment plans go beyond booming markets—they’re meant to protect your endowment in busts too.
Funders face a double-edged sword in times of economic downturn; increased need and fewer resources. These forces are forcing a reckoning for funders thinking about perpetuity.
Some are dipping into endowments to meet the ever-growing need. Others are opting out of the short term to ensure they can meet future needs. Funders aren’t making these decisions alone—they’re having ongoing discussions about the growing needs in their communities and how the markets are shifting.
Investing for impact
More and more funders are looking for ways to make an impact beyond grants. They discussed aligning their endowments and missions. Strategies also included negative screens on stocks and bonds, and investing directly in companies whose work aligns with the foundation’s mission. And funders engaged in impact investing say COVID-19 has had little impact on their commitments in this area.
When you look back, what will you be proud of?
Exponent Philanthropy CEO Henry Berman closed our May 1st conversation asking, “In 2035, when you look back on this time, what will you be proud of?”
Our discussion speakers agreed—they’ll be proud of not panicking, sticking to investment plans and, most importantly, supporting grantees in whatever ways possible.