COVID-19 – latest from the GFCF
03 Apr 2020
GFCF Statement on COVID-19 (29th April 2020)
The GFCF wants to play a positive role in responding to COVID-19. For the foreseeable future, we will focus our efforts and resources on supporting our global network of community philanthropy partners to respond to COVID-19, both in the short and longer term.
We strongly believe that investment in local community-based, community philanthropy organizations, which are rooted in and trusted by the people they serve and that are deliberately inclusive of the most marginalized and vulnerable members of community, must be an essential part of any immediate and long-term response.
We also see that the #ShiftThePower campaign, and its focus on putting people in charge of their own development and on devolving and distributing power and resources, is more relevant than ever.
Our grantmaking, therefore, will be directed towards partners’ efforts, both to respond to immediate needs, but also to be able to start looking ahead towards larger efforts to bring about long-term change, i.e. to “build back better.”* See here for a list of our COVID-19 response grants.
Already, through online meetings with partners around the world, we are hearing about community philanthropy’s response to the pandemic. Although the cases of the virus are still low in some places, the economic and social effects of lockdowns are already being felt. Immediate activities have included reaching out to local grassroots groups and vulnerable members of community to serve immediate needs, activating designated social justice funds to protect marginalized communities (migrants and refugees, Roma, the elderly etc.), local fundraising campaigns to support essential health services etc. Some are already starting to think longer term and about what a new architecture for a good society might look like.
There are fears too: fears about the shift towards authoritarianism and control that the excuse of the virus provides, fears about divisions between people based on prejudice and nationalism, fears about the fragility of their organizations, many of whom have spent years building up local trust in the community and have been successful in getting local people to engage in their communities, as donors, volunteers and community leaders.
In these difficult times, there will be different approaches towards risk in the funding space, and disagreements as to whether now is the right time to be challenging established ways of working. In this moment of global crisis, we believe that now is the time to set aside siloes, logos and egos and to put faith into what is a growing landscape of organizations and networks that that are rooted in the communities they serve and that are deciding and doing in new and participatory ways. At moments like these, “capacity” may need to mean more than the ability to deliver donor-directed projects and to hinge instead on relevance, rootedness and local ownership.
The GFCF is a convening, network and bridge-building organization. We believe that long-term change – towards the good society and the future we want – requires the collective action of individuals and institutions located across the system, from the edges and from centres of power, working at grassroots / local, national and international levels.
Last November’s Pathways to Power Symposium was a good example of what can happen when a diverse group of good people, all focused on long-term, systemic change within philanthropy and international development come together. More recently, a hundred people joined our recent global online meeting on #ShiftThePower and systems change. Although we have suspended all plans for face-to-face meetings for the time being, we will continue to create spaces for partners and allies to come together to exchange experiences and build solidarity.
At the same time, we will continue to advance the broader #ShiftThePower agenda with our partners, donors, and other allies interested in looking ahead and continuing to think about long-term systemic change.
Finally, we will continue to review our approach, as well as to collate and process what we are learning and hearing.
* Please note: we will focus primarily on supporting existing partners and organizations that are already active within broader community philanthropy / #ShiftThePower networks.