A Message from our Colleagues at the Council on Foundations


The rapid spread of COVID-19 has created a global health and economic crisis that is testing every one of us. We know that the shocks of this “new normal” are severe and unanticipated for our sector and grantee partners.

As leaders in philanthropy, we recognize the critical need to act with fierce urgency to support our nonprofit partners as well as the people and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19.

We invite funders and other leaders in the philanthropic sector to join us in making these commitments and collectively holding ourselves accountable to them by signing this pledge of action.  


Our Pledge

Over the days, weeks, and months ahead, each of our foundations pledges to: 

  • Loosen or eliminate the restrictions on current grants. This can include: converting project-based grants to unrestricted support; accelerating payment schedules; and not holding grantees responsible if conferences, events, and other project deliverables must be postponed or canceled. 

  • Make new grants as unrestricted as possible, so nonprofit partners have maximum flexibility to respond to this crisis. We will also support organizations created and led by the communities most affected that we may not fund currently.

  • Reduce what we ask of our nonprofit partners, postponing reporting requirements, site visits, and other demands on their time during this challenging period.

  • Contribute to community-based emergency response funds and other efforts to address the health and economic impact on those most affected by this pandemic.

  • Communicate proactively and regularly about our decision-making and response to provide helpful information while not asking more of grantee partners. 

  • Commit to listening to our partners and especially to those communities least heard, lifting up their voices and experiences to inform public discourse and our own decision-making so we can act on their feedback. We recognize that the best solutions to the manifold crises caused by COVID-19 are not found within foundations. 

  • Support, as appropriate, grantee partners advocating for important public policy changes to fight the pandemic and deliver an equitable and just emergency response for all. This may include its economic impact on workers, such as expanded paid sick leave; increasing civic participation; access to affordable health care; and expanded income and rental assistance. It should also include lending our voices to calls to action led by grantee partners, at their direction and request.

  • Learn from these emergency practices and share what they teach us about effective partnership and philanthropic support, so we may consider adjusting our practices more fundamentally in the future, in more stable times, based on all we learn.


Take the Pledge

We encourage other foundations and philanthropic organizations to join us in making these commitments and holding ourselves accountable to them by signing this pledge of action.

COVID-19’s impacts are reaching every corner of the world. We must stand together. By acting together to provide flexibility to our grantee partners, we believe we can help them move their essential work forward powerfully and confidently in this critical moment.


An Open Letter to Our Public Officials from Our Funder Partners

Dear Public Officials:

As philanthropic institutions who strive for a racially and economically equitable region, we thank you for your leadership during this unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus. We appreciate the actions that you have taken already to protect residents of DC, Maryland, and Virginia, including declaring a state of emergency and ensuring our residents have access to meals while schools remained closed. As the crisis continues to evolve, it is likely that other measures will need to be taken. We write this letter to emphasize some key issues that are of concern to many members of the region’s philanthropic community.

This crisis has revealed the challenges of a region and country divided by a racialized wealth and income gap so wide that large numbers of our residents – the majority of whom are people of color lacking economic stability and well-being before this crisis – will struggle to survive this even in the short-term from both a health and financial perspective. The potential spread of the virus, and the accompanying changes in work schedules and status, lack of sufficient paid sick leave for all workers, and rapid changes in income will put many individuals and families into financial crisis. As the crisis continues, it will make it even harder on our most vulnerable residents, and we encourage you to consider every means necessary to protect our community.

We have long-term systems work to do to address the inequities in our region that, in part, are exacerbating the crisis today. But in the short-term, these are some of the critical ideas that we think will help avoid pushing more people into financial distress and possible homelessness, including:


  1. A moratorium on evictions, mortgage foreclosures, utility shut offs, and new late payment fees now and for at least six months after the end of the pandemic

  2. A moratorium on homeless sweeps now and for at least six months after the end of the pandemic

  3. Expanded paid sick leave for all workers for the duration of this crisis

  4. An expansion of support and services for low-wage, contract, hourly, and gig-economy workers whose hours are reduced or whose jobs have been eliminated

  5. An extension of unemployment benefits for workers affected by the coronavirus or whose business is affected by the coronavirus and waiver of work search requirements for at least the next two months

  6. Coverage of costs for more residents for testing and treatment of coronavirus

  7. Removal of barriers to unemployment benefits and public benefits like SNAP

  8. Halting of debt collection activities by public and anchor institutions now and for at least six months after the end of the pandemic

  9. Emergency lending for small business

  10. Funding for rental assistance and childcare

  11. Full payment for permanent supportive housing services and advance payments on social services contracts to nonprofits now and for the next three months

  12. Increased funding for nonprofit organizations, many of whom have increased services while sacrificing revenue

  13. Removal of restrictions on grants to nonprofits to allow them maximum flexibility now and over the next six months


We believe these ideas can help provide a necessary framework of supports for our neighbors as we simultaneously think through how we co-create a region where our mutual well-being and public health are centered around equity, caring, and humanity for all. Local philanthropy is galvanizing to provide critical philanthropic support during this crisis – individually and collectively – but we know that the government’s resources and ability to address some of the barriers to people’s well-being far exceeds ours. We stand ready to support these efforts however we can.


Bainum Family Foundation

Consumer Health Foundation

Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

Flamboyan Foundation

Greater Washington Community Foundation

Hill-Snowdon Foundation

Institute for Wise Philanthropy

The Lois and Richard England Family Foundation

Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund

National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association

Washington Area Women's Foundation

Weissberg Foundation

© 2018 by the Hill-Snowdon Foundation. Proudly created with Wix.com