Throughout history, at times of uncertainty and during the crisis, philanthropy has been of great importance. After an earthquake, a hurricane, or a wildfire; all-natural disasters that can cause extensive damage to all living things, people have stepped in to practice philanthropy. Grant-making foundations, philanthropic institutions, and even private citizens have stood beside the negatively-impacted people, offering help governments often can’t.
The world is experiencing the worst pandemic in modern history as COVID-19 rampages across the globe with no end in sight. It has brought entire countries, and industries, to a grinding halt. It has driven humanity towards unprecedented peril. As Jonah Engler explains it, the devastating effects of COVID-19 on public health and the economy have compelled governments to search for trillions of dollar’s worth of relief packages, setting the stage for philanthropic organizations to prove the meaningful role they play in society.
Jonah Engler says that philanthropy must compliment government action
Philanthropy works best in tandem to governmental and intergovernmental measures. It can help the government bolster its initiatives while relieving people of their financial misery. This is the ideal role of philanthropy in a democratic society, wherein social relief and charity combine forces. This pandemic has provided ample opportunity to demonstrate the need for philanthropy.
Bringing people together
Philanthropy brings people together and kindles the human spirit, as individual acts of kindness are brought into the spotlight during such moments of crisis. It is human nature to help people in need. You don’t need to be rich to participate in, or contribute to, philanthropic endeavors. History has shown us that all people, regardless of their financial status, are capable of giving back in simple ways.
With millions of jobs lost, many have lost their healthcare, as wealth as their ability to pay for their basic needs like rent, food, etc. Simple acts of philanthropy we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic include landlords waiving rent for a few months to relieve tenants of at least one financial burden. Some restaurants have been handing out bagged lunches to families and children who need food, as food banks see higher numbers of people than ever before.
Non-profit organizations coming to the rescue
In democratic societies, non-profit organizations represent civil society and fill voids left unaddressed by private and public sectors, while holding those sectors responsible. Non-profit organizations often rely on donations for gathering resources. Several organizations have broadened their scope in terms of who qualifies for grants or aid. Some organizations collect donated items, like clothing and tools, to redistribute to those in need as parts of the United States simultaneously fight the pandemic and natural disasters, like the California wildfires.
The pandemic has hit people who were already struggling the hardest. That is why we need to step up to protect the already marginalized at this time. An example of this was seen through a community foundation in Brooklyn which came forward to give resources to borough residents who were disproportionately vulnerable in terms of economic, health, and social factors. Philanthropy has the ability to highlight crucial concerns, such as equity, which might have been overlooked in the past.