Open Letter to Grantees from Social Justice Funders

Proteus Fund has joined over 30 social justice funders in sending and open letter to grantees outlining their commitments to partners during this challenging time.

As social justice funders, we all focus on the root causes of social, gender, racial, economic and environmental injustices. We also aim to make the field of philanthropy more accessible, accountable, transparent and responsive to the grantee partners with whom we work. We strive to be allies to social justice movements. It is in that spirit, that we reach out now to share our commitments during this incredibly troubling time.

As COVID-19 drastically affects the world and the communities you serve, we know that many of our grantee partners and other organizations face unprecedented challenges and concerns. We want you to know that we, your philanthropic partners, are in this together with you. We know that many of you have had to cancel in-person meetings and events, fundraising efforts and political actions. Schools are closed and many of you are being asked to step in and support young people and vulnerable older populations, providing critical social services that are beyond your current capacities. And we know you do it because of your deep commitment to your work and your communities. Many of you have understandable concerns that raising funds, making payroll, and meeting grant benchmarks may be deeply impacted.

We want you to know that we hear and share these concerns, and we plan to act. As foundations and funders committed to social justice, we have a responsibility to support our community and to help your organizations and your communities. We have been in touch with many of you and are grateful that you shared your immediate challenges and anticipated future needs. We welcome these conversations and know there will be many more.

We don’t have all the answers. We do, however, want to share some of the ways we are approaching our role as philanthropic funders who need and want to help our grantees. We echo some of the same principles shared by a coalition of 19 foundations that published a similar open letter to grantees on the eJewish Philanthropy website:

  • Maintaining our funding levels: We will honor all committed grants by maintaining funding levels regardless of adjusted programmatic and other activities.
  • Adjusting our expectations: We welcome a conversation to talk about adjusting timelines or grant objectives or other foundation-related work that gets in the way of your ability to focus on emergent needs in your communities. We will adjust our expectations to reflect the reality of the times. We also commit to advocate on your behalf to other funders for practices that support your work in these trying times and provide flexibility.
  • Giving you time to plan and respond to the crisis: We understand that normal grant reporting requirements, site visits, and other commitments to funders take away from the time you need to plan and respond appropriately to the current crisis. We will be flexible around deadlines and we will work with you and make adjustments to ensure your time can be used in the most effective ways. 
  • Being nimble: As the situation evolves, and as we learn more about your needs, we will strive to offer support as quickly as possible. We will work with you and each other to help make funds available to address and respond to the COVID19 and global economic scenarios in strategic ways and to focus on building sustainable organizations.
  • Staying coordinated: Wherever possible, we will coordinate our efforts and communication. If you need to talk to more than one funder, we will try to speak with you at the same time. We are committed to streamlining the flow of information between your organization’s leadership and the multiple funder contacts many of you have. In short, we will make these communications easier and more efficient for you.
  • Taking a people-centered approach: Beyond and regardless of grants, we know that every person is being impacted by this situation at a personal level in ways that threaten the stability of many people’s health, physical safety, food security, mobility, housing, mental and emotional wellbeing, among other challenges. We affirm that human lives and the well-being of the communities you serve are of paramount importance at this time and we will only get through the worst of the challenges ahead by checking in, looking out for, and offering mutual aid support to one another. Times like this call on all of us to show up and step up as our best selves.

As we talk with you more over the coming days and months, we will take what we learn and do our
very best to turn it into meaningful actions that support your work and your communities. 

Thank you for your commitment to solidarity and social justice.

Sincerely, your philanthropic partners: