On the Front Line. COVID-19 and Health Sciences Philanthropy

  • Published March 20, 2020

The philanthropic environment for health is very different than it was just two weeks ago. We know philanthropy can rebound and even increase after a national or worldwide crisis. Yet this crisis has placed the world’s healthcare and health sciences institutions on the front line of the battle against a devastating disease.

What follows is recommended guidance to support your efforts through these unfolding events.

Communicate! Treat your institution’s donors and volunteers like your extended family.

The Great Recession and previous crises proved regular and personal (some institutions are personally calling each of their top donors) communication is critically important. Your donors and volunteers are looking to your health organization as an important source for:

  • Information and resources regarding COVID-19 (links to institutional and other websites, hotlines, FAQS, etc.)
  • Descriptions of how your institution is supporting patients, families, employees and the community.

Be ready to respond to donors who wish to support your coronavirus efforts.

Generous donors are already contributing to hospitals and research centers to battle COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Media are starting to suggest giving to hospitals and research centers as “Ways You Can Help”.

  • Take time to carefully craft your messaging about giving to support your COVID-19 efforts to encourage support while avoiding a perception of “leveraging” a disaster.
  • Create a case for support describing the services your health organization is providing for COVID-19 and how philanthropy can make a difference.
  • Create a restricted fund for COVID-19 and infectious disease to support treatment, education, research and community outreach
  • Place easily accessible content on your website to guide donors on how they can provide support for your COVID-19 efforts

Utilize technology to continue personal interactions with donors.

Technology offers alternatives to time sensitive or strategically important in-person meetings with donors, volunteers and clinical care team members integral to your programs.

Revisit your 2020 fundraising plans with your executive team and boards.

Current fundraising activities may need to be delayed or adjusted. Annual goals may need to be revised. It’s too soon to fully understand the impact of COVID-19, but the time is now to consider options and thoughtful planning.

Begin planning for the post-coronavirus era.

It’s not possible to know when we will begin to exit this crisis. Intentional planning now for the inevitable tipping point ensures you can return more quickly to comprehensive fundraising efforts.

Tackle important internal projects.

The cancellation/postponement of events and other fundraising activities creates an opportunity to work on internal projects and strategies to strengthen your program during and after the crisis, such as portfolio clean-up, data analytics, policies and procedures, and training.