We asked alumni in all nine of the subsectors to discuss how they and their organizations are serving the community and providing for the greater good.
Dr. Winterbourne Harrison-Jones, M.A.’16, senior pastor, Witherspoon Presbyterian Church
As the senior pastor of a bustling congregation, the impending novel coronavirus pandemic has changed the landscape of congregational life in many ways. It has challenged our models around worship and forced us to create new systems of connection. However in a strange way, the pandemic has also returned the church more broadly to its foundational principles of care and community.
In this new and ancient space, we have been able to maximize the power of small groups, initiate a comprehensive Family Care Team structure, launch a new church website, and create a series of virtual spaces for spiritual development and social engagement. The coronavirus has challenged many congregations to think quickly and creatively about how it remains true to its ancient calling to be the ecclesia, while navigating this new and ever-changing landscape. Our congregation has embraced this new norm, thus being able to shape a hermeneutic of hope and restoration amidst the crisis.
Dr. Richard Trollinger, M.A.‘02, senior philanthropy advisor, Centre College (KY)
At the residential liberal arts college where I work, Centre College in Danville, KY, the focus of our fundraising efforts in March and early April was a Coronavirus Relief Fund to help students overcome the hardships that some of them have faced in returning home and adapting to an Internet-based model of learning for the remainder of the spring semester.
Some students needed assistance in purchasing airline tickets, others needed computers and internet connections, and the Relief Fund was available to provide those forms of assistance. We are now shifting the conversation to the ongoing need that our most vulnerable students have year in and year out in meeting their educational expenses, which is to say that we will move from a focus on Coronavirus Relief to need-based student scholarships.
In addition to my role as senior philanthropy advisor at Centre, I serve as the coordinator of a group of 21 chief development officers at liberal arts colleges in the Southeast. We have had Zoom meetings to discuss when and how to reboot our overall fundraising programs, especially major gifts. This is tricky at best and perilous at worst, given the current state of the stock market and the overall economy, so we have wanted to examine all of the angles and to learn from one another.
Jud Fisher, M.A.‘07, president and COO, Ball Brothers Foundation
I am the president of Ball Brothers Foundation, a private family foundation in Muncie, Indiana. At the beginning of the pandemic, we shifted our Rapid Grant program into overdrive to assist with immediate and emergency needs. These grants have been deployed to frontline workers in healthcare, law enforcement, firefighting, emergency management, food service, etc.
Our Rapid Grant program is designed to pay out grants up to $5,000 swiftly. The program assists with immediate needs, and it was developed and implemented just shy of two decades ago.
So, we have had a process in place that took very little adjustment to assist with needs in the Muncie and East Central Indiana area as the virus ground the world to a halt. We are purposely designed to be flexible for our community’s needs. This allowed us to respond quickly to urgent needs without much change in our system. We are doing our emergency funding while continuing our regular Rapid Grant and General Grant schedule.
Ball Brothers Foundation has a hardworking and adept staff, as well as a good operational plan. This combination makes for a powerful organization ready to make a positive impact in good times and bad.
Public Society Benefit
Lisa Busse, M.A.’07, engagement senior manager, United Way of Central Indiana
United Way of Central Indiana has adapted our work and deployed every available resource to ensure our team is immediately and directly responding to the unique needs of our community during the COVID-19 crisis.
Initially, this meant that on March 13, we announced the creation of the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund (C-CERF) in collaboration with other funders to support human services organizations and the individuals and families they serve who are affected directly and indirectly by COVID-19 coronavirus. This Fund is modeled on the Community Economic Relief Fund created during the Great Recession in 2008, during which I was a fundraiser at United Way of Greater Cincinnati.
Now, as the leader of a team of fundraisers, what this has meant for me is moving into a space where we are fundraising for both the emerging and exacerbating needs in our community during a public emergency, while engaging in the work of laying a strong fundraising foundation for the coming fiscal year that we would ordinarily be doing at this time of year.
In a practical sense, the day-to-day hasn’t shifted much. My team and I are communicating with donors weekly and scheduling as many virtual donor meetings as we can, which has allowed us to raise more than an additional $6.4 million for C-CERF in just five weeks. We’re communicating with our partners around planning for the coming fundraising cycle and setting goals and strategies to support them. But the content of our work as changed.
We’re discussing an unprecedented global pandemic with our donors and we’re planning for a world in which so many of the fundraising constants we’ve relied on: face-to-face meetings, presentations, immersive learning opportunities and volunteer engagement, must be completely reconfigured to allow for social distancing.
As an alumnae, I’ve found the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy immensely helpful in this moment. The Friday webinars and reporting on trends provided by the school are shaping and supporting the recommendations I’m making to our leadership and the strategies I’m building for how my team and I will successfully meet our fundraising goals this year. And now, more than any other year in my 16-year career, our success matters.
The need, and the need for United Way, is greater than ever before. But I’m confident that our local United Way and United Ways across the globe are ready for this moment. United Way of Central Indiana was founded in 1918 as the world reeled from the Great Influenza Pandemic and we were made for this work and meeting the need in these moments.
We’ve already deployed $15.8 million in grants to more than 100 organizations through two rounds of grant funding. Learn more about the fund or get involved as a volunteer.
Bethany Watson, M.A.’19, director of grants and foundations relations, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one in seven Hoosiers were experiencing food insecurity. On a yearly basis, hundreds of thousands of hungry Hoosiers depend on food and other critical grocery products provided by Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana.
Gleaners operates as the largest food bank and hunger relief charity in the state, serving 1/3 of the 1 million Hoosiers vulnerable to chronic hunger each year. Unfortunately, as a result, through statewide school and business closures, the number of Hoosiers in need has risen dramatically in just a few short weeks.
Since mid-March, we’ve seen upwards of over 1,000 households attending a distribution at our onsite pantry and growing, more than double our previous average of 400. Many of these clients are first-time visitors, having never needed to attend a pantry before the pandemic. Across the U.S., researchers found that nearly 4 in 10 people had too little to eat or difficulty obtaining healthy foods in March.
Because of my degree in philanthropic studies, I was prepared to jump into action through my work at Gleaners and make a real difference for people who truly need it.
Environment and Animals
Erin Crowther, B.A.’17 and M.A.’19, donor relations manager, The Nature Conservancy in Indiana
As we approach more than two months of social distancing at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), we are continuing to thoughtfully and creatively adapt to the circumstances our world is facing.
While working from home and complying with stay-in-place orders has eliminated some of our traditional work, from meeting with our donors in-person to hosting events and hikes, we’ve been challenged to engage our conservation community in new ways.
We have developed biweekly “TNC TV” episodes featuring exciting aspects of our mission to protect the lands and waters on which all life depends; successfully held an online board meeting with Zoom conferencing; and celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day virtually from all corners of the globe.
We recognize the comfort our natural world can bring to those that engage with it, and we hope our efforts are inspiring others to take advantage of these benefits!
Kinga Horvath, M.A.‘18, visiting research associate, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
Giving to international affairs and cross-border philanthropy have become crucial to address the COVID-19 pandemic. International affairs organizations need to tackle several outbreaks occurring simultaneously in various countries that require cross-sector and international collaboration, improved data collection and sharing, and more effective project implementation.
U.S. international affairs organizations, such as World Vision, CARE, or the United States Fund for UNICEF have implemented innovative fundraising campaigns, participated in the #GivingTuesdayNOW initiative, and developed their own emergency responses to help the most vulnerable affected by the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe.
In the last couple of years, international non-governmental organizations have introduced private fundraising initiatives to diversify their revenue streams. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this phenomenon. The World Health Organization (WHO), for the first time in its history, established a COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in collaboration with the United Nations Foundation and Swiss Philanthropy Foundation to raise funds from individuals, private foundations, and corporations.
Within less than two months, more than 280,000 donors have supported the WHO’s fight against COVID-19, raising more than $207 million.
Finally, pooled funds and collaboratives have become an innovative vehicle for international giving, especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pooled funds and donor-driven collaboratives leverage donors’ resources and common interests to tackle global societal challenges locally and globally. While collaboratives, such as Co-Impact, Global Alliance for the Future of Food, and The END Fund have been working on global challenges, the role of pooled funds and collaboratives has also increased recently.
The OCHA’s Financial Tracking Service reported that 10 percent of the total funding to the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan has come from global and country-based pooled funds.
Michelle Turchan, M.A.’18, regional Riley Society gift officer, Riley Children’s Foundation
During these unprecedented and confusing times, I have relied heavily on collaboration with peers and mentors across the field to discuss what is the greatest way we can continue to serve our society through our organizations right now.
One of the greatest things I have learned from others in the recent weeks is the importance of remaining nimble. I think during these unprecedented times it is easy to find ourselves feeling anxious and stressed that we are no longer executing the fundraising events, donor visits, meetings, etc. that we thought we would right now per our strategic plans.
With that being said, one of the most impactful things I learned at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is that for nonprofit organizations our greatest focus needs to be on impact. Right now, it’s important to be nimble and ask ourselves how the constituents that our organization serves are impacted by this health crisis and what type of impact our organization can have on their circumstances to serve them in a positive way. And not only how our constituents are impacted, but also how our volunteers and donors are impacted and be mindful of that as well.
In the healthcare sector, we know that many of the constituents of our organization are in a particularly heightened state of stress right now. Our organization has developed a relief fund that allows the hospital to serve the specific needs of families impacted by this health crisis.
Although sometimes it is tempting for us to revert back to thinking about what we thought we’d be working on right now when we developed our strategic plan, it’s important that we remain nimble and available so that we can best serve our constituents.
Arts and Culture
Tania Castroverde Moskalenko, M.A.’20, executive director, Miami City Ballet
Every field has been deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The arts and cultural sector has been devastated by both the financial losses and the implications of social distancing. During times of national or global crisis, such as 9/11 or the 2008 economic crisis, we have taken solace in the healing power of the arts. Sharing space allows us to grieve together and heal together. But, the nature of this pandemic doesn’t allow us to do that, which is what makes it so utterly devastating.
At first, we thought the closings were only temporary, with a return to normal just in time for the summer festival season. But then, summer turned into fall. And now, fall is turning into winter. According to a paper just published by SMU DataArts and TRG Arts, 35,000 of nonprofit US arts groups with annual budgets of $50,000 or more will experience a $12.4 billion loss through February 2021. Additionally, American for the Arts surveys reflect that 62 percent of artists and creative workers have become fully unemployed because of COVID-19 and 95 percent have experienced income loss. As a colleague of mine put it, “it’s death by a thousand cuts.”
Those of us who work in the field believe deeply in the transformative power of our work, and we are committed to our communities to provide joy, beauty, and inspiration – especially now when it’s needed more than ever. The current situation has forced many of us to pivot to virtual presentations via digital platforms and social media channels. Most of us are planning, creating, and producing content in order to stay connected to our audiences. But, we yearn for the time when we can welcome them back to our performances.
As we move forward with the new challenges brought about by COVID-19, arts and cultural institutions are determined to continue impacting lives through our work. Together, we’ll get through this period of unprecedented uncertainty. We remain hopeful and optimistic. We are a resilient bunch.