COVID-19 – latest from the GFCF
03 Apr 2020
GFCF Statement on COVID-19
(Originally posted in April 2020 this statement is regularly revisited and updated)
The GFCF wants to play a positive role in the context of COVID-19. Since the outset of the pandemic, we have focused 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 both immediate and long-term responses. We also believe that the #ShiftThePower movement, 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 in 2020, 2021 and 2022, 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.
Immediate responses included reaching out to local grassroots groups and vulnerable members of community to serve urgent 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, assisting vulnerable individuals to access information and vaccines, etc. Many of our partners are thinking more longer term and about what a new architecture for a good society might look like. In many cases, our grants are supporting partners to build long-term resilience in their communities, and to strengthen their own abilities to react to future crises.
From a number of online convenings and conversations, we have heard 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 own organizations, many of whom have spent years building up local trust in their communities; and, fears about the long-term effects the pandemic will have on mental health and well-being.
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 disruption, 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. Although we have suspended 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. One example is our 2021 partner-led online learning series, which explored such topics as: building local philanthropy against the backdrop of COVID-19; engaging with marginalized and minority groups; and localism and livelihoods.
At the same time, we are also continuing to advance the broader #ShiftThePower agenda (for example, through the May 2021 launch of the #ShiftThePower Treehouse) 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 are focusing primarily on supporting existing partners and organizations that are already active within broader community philanthropy / #ShiftThePower networks.