COVID-19 vaccines are starting to be administered and while this provides hope that we will be able to turn the corner on this pandemic, we know that much work remains and that it will take time for individuals and communities to truly heal. As communities begin to recover from health, economic and social justice crises, we have an opportunity to ensure we don’t just return to “business as usual.” Instead, we must incorporate the lessons we learned in 2020 – examining our own internal culture and practices, building partnerships and learning from those we serve – so we build back in a more resilient and equitable way.
In 2020, grant managers were challenged to determine how to support nonprofits while community needs were at all-time highs, traditional funding was halted, volunteering had to be adjusted due to the pandemic, and nonprofit staff was experiencing greater burnout. These challenges were a catalyst for many of us to revisit our strategies, policies and processes. Immediate changes included expansion of focus areas based on community need, more general operations funding, simplified applications, streamlined approval processes, and new methods for reporting and measuring results.
These issues over the last 12 months have also paved way for us to examine with more honesty and clarity how we can eliminate structural racism from philanthropy. As grant managers, we play a critical role in ensuring our policies and processes are structured through an equity lens, examining thinks like how we source partners, evaluate partners, our data and reporting expectations, and what we are doing to help our partners build infrastructure for continued growth and sustainability.
Steps like these are only a beginning, but they are pivotal to create lasting change. In 2021 and beyond, we can leverage the lessons of the past year to ensure we build back stronger and better.
Read more about the lessons we learned by reading my commentary for Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Image: HealthFinders Collaborative, a Medtronic Foundation partner, provides people in Southern Minnesota, regardless of income or insurance, with health care rooted in the local community.