So much of what philanthropy has done over the past few months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was long overdue (also long overdue but perhaps not as clearly seen yet is the sector’s response to address inequities and structural racism – that’s a subject for a future post).
In a matter of a few weeks, philanthropies – including Los Altos Community Foundation – opened up response funds, converted grants from providing program support to general operating support, and extended reporting deadlines. Funding applications and timelines for decisions were both significantly streamlined to get money to those who needed it most. Individuals and families with donor-advised funds (DAFs) became allies in real-time support. I hope these changes stick well after the pandemic has passed.
The complexity of how to provide support and operate as a thoughtful community-focused funder in a pandemic can appear daunting. Doing so while sheltering in place and participating in an endless parade of video conference calls makes it even more complex. And yet, I have benefited from a few communities of practice that meet regularly to share experiences, challenges, and creative solutions while embracing the spirit of collective action. These include a community foundation evaluation network, a national CEO roundtable with representatives from a cross-stream of corporations, and something a bit closer to home – the Alliance of Community Foundations of Silicon Valley.
An Alliance of Collaboration
Most people have never heard of the Alliance, but it has served as an invaluable resource in support of LACF’s local efforts. Administered by one of its members, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Alliance includes ten local community foundations such as the Gilroy Foundation, Morgan Hill Community Foundation, and the Palo Alto Community Fund. Collectively, we’ve worked together to maintain a strong Silicon Valley nonprofit community and collaborative response to the pandemic.
We meet weekly as a group and communicate often in between meetings to share resources, discuss ways to best respond to the pandemic, and explore options so that we don’t reinvent tactics or operate in silos. Together, we’ve leveraged each foundation’s strengths to grow and strengthen local giving in the region. And, we haven’t let competition get in the way of good work and collaboration.
The power of people working together for greater local good is an amazing experience. I’m witnessing it with our donors, community leaders, and local organizations. I look forward to highlighting more of these new collaborations and partnerships for good in the coming months.
Tune in to Listen
As a member of the Alliance network, LACF was recently invited to participate in SVCF’s Philanthropy Now podcast series. Join Adin Miller, Executive Director of LACF, Marsha Deslauriers, Executive Director of Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC), and Michelle Fries, SVCF Director of Nonprofit Support Services, as they discuss the work of LACF, the role of the Alliance of Community Foundations of Silicon Valley, the trends in needs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of telehealth and more.