COVID-19 Resource Central

Updated March 27, 2020 with information about how various organizations are keeping equity at the center of their response to COVID-19 along with notes from recent virtual meetings.

Our community of philanthropy is wrestling with difficult issues now and will experience new challenges in the weeks and months ahead as Michiganders deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) that has spread across the globe. Please check back regularly, as we continue to work in collaboration with our partners throughout the U.S. to bring the best of CMF’s work to our members and the broader field of funders nationally.  

Important News & Updates Upcoming Webinars & CallsResources & Best Practices

Relief & Response Funds in MIState News & Policy AlertsCMF Response




Important News & Updates

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information about facts and statistics related to COVID-19, along with state and federal policy updates and official guidance, is available at:  

Health-related questions and connections to community resources may be directed to: 

In recognition of the critical need to act with fierce urgency to support our nonprofit partners as well as the people and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19, the Council on Foundations is inviting funders and other leaders in the philanthropic sector to sign a pledge of action.  

Learn More and Sign Pledge



Upcoming Events (Webinars and Calls) to Learn More

The following is a curated list of upcoming calls and webinars connected to COVID-19. Recordings and resources available after these events will be added to the applicable FAQ section. All times shown are in Eastern time. 

  • March 27, 12 p.m., Hosted by National Center for Family Philanthropy: "Family Philanthropy's Response to COVID-19" (Register and Learn More)
  • March 27, 2 p.m., Hosted by Council of Michigan Foundations: "COVID-19: A Conversation with U.S. Senator Gary Peters" (Register and Learn More)

A number of national CMF partner organizations are hosting programming related to COVID-19 specifically for grantmakers. In addition to the events listed here on our site, we invite you to visit their coronavirus-focused webpages for even more learning opportunities:  

Additionally, the legal firms that CMF works with are offering specialized programming for clients. We invite you to visit the COVID-19 webpages of Bodman PLC and Clark Hill PLC for their event news and resources.



COVID-19 Resources

The following FAQs are designed to address grantmakers' questions related to their role in preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and related period of economic volatility. Included in the Q&A responses below are samples, tools, articles, reports and other resources. Our team is also working closely in partnership with the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and Michigan Association of United Ways (MAUW) to remain connected around the needs of nonprofits and how funders can help.

CMF members with a question not addressed in the FAQ below, or who have samples that can be added to these resources, are invited to contact Ask CMF.  

Disclaimer: The Council of Michigan Foundations is sharing the following sample documents, resources, tools and other materials as a member resource. Please note that these files are provided for educational purposes only, as a reference in developing your own materials. As such, be sure to consult your professional, legal and financial advisors in the development of resources, strategies and policies specific to your foundation’s needs. Further, this is a rapidly changing situation, and as such, be sure to refer to official sources for the latest news and information.

Disaster and Crisis Planning Resources & Philanthropy’s Collective Response 

  • Where can I find additional resources to plan the foundation’s response?

    For a community-related crisis, CMF has a curated the following materials from our national and regional partners that have been most useful to CMF members facing unexpected situations in their area: 

    The Center for Disaster Philanthropy encourages funders to use its Disaster Philanthropy Playbook, a comprehensive resource of practices and approaches designed to address disaster situations.   

    The Council on Foundations has a Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Plan designed to incorporate both internal processes and grantmaking procedures. 

    This situation has a longer timeframe in comparison to most natural disasters (hurricane, tornado, wildfire, etc.). As a result, it is more important than ever to think through the immediate, intermediate, and long-term role of the foundation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and during the recovery stages. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has a useful “Lessons Learned” webpage that explains the role of philanthropy before, during and after disasters strike.   

  • How do I address children’s questions about philanthropy and the COVID-19 pandemic?

    CMF teamed with Learning to Give to produce updated materials appropriate to youth programs and YACs for the COVID-19 outbreak.  Learning to Give now has a Disaster Preparation and Response Toolkit, with COVID-19 specific information, available here.  They also published an article, "Generosity and Service While Practicing Social Distancing.”

Equity at the Center of Philanthropy’s Response

  • What are some of the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to issues of equity for Michigan communities and how are various organizations responding?

    Effectively addressing the COVID-19 pandemic requires not only changes in behavior such as minimizing contact with others, but also calls on each of us to understand the equity implications for the most vulnerable in our communities. What will be the impact as schools close, businesses require employees to remain home and commerce and industry at all levels feel the pain of an economic slowdown? For Michigan families, children and seniors without access to affordable health care, paid sick leave, food and safe drinking water, the consequences can be severe. As funders and with our nonprofit partners we will be called upon to play crucial, even life-saving roles.  

    The resources below come from our national partners and organizations connected to philanthropy and social justice. These connections are just a sampling of the response coming from the philanthropic community. If you are looking for more information on these or other issues connected to equity and COVID-19, we invite you to reach out to the CMF staff. 

    The NAACP has released “Ten Equity Implications of the COVID 19 Pandemic in the United States: The Imperative for Civil Rights Advocacy, Monitoring, and Enforcement,” a resource “to guide officials responsible for addressing health, economic, and other impacts, in remediating some of the issues that are disproportionately affecting communities of color.”  

    The Disability and Philanthropy Forum shares, “philanthropy has a critical role to play in ensuring that the disability community is not left behind.” They have identified key disability issues connected to COVID-19 and pulled together a variety of resources, ranging from practices for hosting for accessible virtual meetings to articles by and for the disability community.  

    Our colleagues at Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) announced two emergency funds “to help Latino organizations offset unexpected costs incurred by the rapidly-changing situation concerning COVID-19 and its effects worldwide specifically in the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean.” The COVID-19 Rapid Response Migration Fund will award at least $200,000 in mini-grants to help frontline migrant-serving organizations develop and launch emergency protocols, cover unexpected costs due to office closures or disrupted revenue streams, increase agility in services and advocacy, and address other unforeseen impacts of the ongoing pandemic. HIP’s Civic Participation fund addresses the critical issues at stake for a fair and accurate 2020 Census to ensure Latinos are counted. 

    CMF’s partners in the United Philanthropy Forum, Funders for LGBTQ Issues, shares, “The COVID-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact in LGBTQ communities and other marginalized communities. During this crisis, Funders for LGBTQ Issues is committed to our mission of increasing the scale and impact of philanthropic resources aimed at enhancing the well-being of LGBTQ communities, promoting equity, and advancing racial, economic and gender justice.” They have provided an array of informational supports on their website, including rapid response and emergency fund listings, guidance for funders and resources specific to the LGBTQ Movement. 

    Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) has also launched a resource page on COVID-19. They feature reports on the impact of COVID-19 on immigrants, a listing of response funds and articles for their members. In their national convening, as speakers discussed the issues, it was noted that “COVID-19 is both an equalizer and a magnifier of disparities, simultaneously showing how we are all interconnected and that those who are most vulnerable in our society bear a disproportionate burden in an emergency.” It was further noted that, “Immigrants, refugees, and asylum will be challenged on multiple fronts, as many work in industries particularly impacted by this pandemic and lack the benefits and options available to others in responding, from paid sick days to working from home.” 

    Our colleagues with Native Americans in Philanthropy has launched a Native American Community Response Fund “to generously support Native American nonprofits on the ground who are caring for our most vulnerable – those facing food insecurity, access to housing, and low-income elderly.”NAP is partnering with the Decolonizing Wealth Project and the National Urban Indian Family Coalition in establishing the fund.  

  • What is CMF doing to ensure equity is at the forefront of philanthropy's response to COVID-19?

    CMF signed onto a joint statement from philanthropy serving organizations on the importance of keeping equity at the forefront in philanthropy’s response to the coronavirus. As philanthropy leaders who come together under the umbrella of United Philanthropy Forum representing more than 7,000 funders, we are committed to helping our sector respond effectively, and in doing so, we are particularly attentive to ways in which this outbreak may exacerbate inequities. Together we are calling on everyone in philanthropy to continue doing all you can to ensure that our communities and our country address the coronavirus outbreak in ways that are as equitable and fair as possible. 

  • How can our foundation help combat the racism and xenophobia seen in connection with this crisis?

    Our sector, as trusted and engaged leaders sharing truth and serving as the conscience of communities, will need to provide clear, thoughtful guidance and accurate information, and we must be concerned with basic decency as we see language and behavior swirling during this crisis that have strong racial and xenophobic overtones. We can all help raise awareness that nothing about the virus is race-based. Our colleague philanthropic network Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy encourage us to remind ourselves and others around us not to project fears of the virus onto marginalized groups or spread unfounded associations. 

  • How are foundations helping to create broad access to information for communities?

    The Grand Rapids Community Foundation is partnering with the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan in its efforts to ensure all members of the community have access to resources and critical information about minimizing exposure to and spreading COVID-19. “Lack of multi-language translation and interpretation of information further exacerbates the public health pandemic we are facing,” said Adnoris ‘Bo’ Torres, executive director of the center. 

    The two have teamed up to specifically to support multilingual translation and interpretation services. 

Grantmaking and Stakeholder Communication

  • How can the foundation support our grantees and local nonprofits?

    Communicate: Reach out to grantees and other nonprofits. Ask about the nonprofits’ needs and how the emerging situation is impacting their staff, operations and programs. Likewise, encourage nonprofits to reach out to the foundation to provide input on evolving needs within the community. 

    The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan launched a webpage that serves multiple purposes connected to COVID-19. One section is dedicated to grantees and shares a list of known needs, as well as an online form that grantees can fill out to highlight other needs they’ve identified.     

    They also have shared their message sent to nonprofits inviting them to share their communities’ needs and letting partners know they can continue to apply for grants through the foundation’s online system and through typical means. 

    The Kalamazoo Community Foundation has launched a Community Urgent Relief Fund. The page includes information on how to contribute to the fund, resources for the community and information on the Kalamazoo County Response Consortium coordinated by Gryphon Place.

    The Skillman Foundation has shared with CMF an email sent to grant partners with their response to COVID-19. The William Davidson Foundation has shared with CMF a letter sent to grant partners

    You can also share information you’re learning with grantees:

    -The Chronicle of Philanthropy has pulled together a number of key resources specifically for nonprofits
    -The Michigan Nonprofit Association released a statement that includes information and COVID-19 resources for nonprofit organizations.  
    -The National Council of Nonprofits also has a webpage dedicated to recommended steps that nonprofits can take, as well as nationally-relevant resources. 
    -The Association of Fundraising Professionals and Bloomerang have compiled lists of webinars, articles, and other resources specifically dedicated to the challenges that nonprofits face in fundraising during this period.  

    Consider opportunities for flexibility in grantmaking: In his article “6 Steps for Grant Makers to Take Now to Ensure Nonprofits Recover from Coronavirus Spread” author Antony Bugg-Levine, CEO of Nonprofit Finance Fund, advises, “Even if your foundation or government agency does not provide unrestricted funding in normal times, remove those restrictions for now.”  

    Consider that nonprofits may not have more than a few months’ worth of cash on hand, and the number of nonprofits with cancelled fundraising events, events they may normally rely on for operational funding.  

    Carrie Pickett-Erway, president and CEO of Kalamazoo Community Foundation notes that foundations can explore changing previously awarded grants to unrestricted grants, in addition to new grantmaking. “If the grantee initially asked for money for their youth program, they now could use it for congregate meals if they see that as the highest priority.” 

    Reduce administrative burdens on grantees: Bugg-Levine suggests funders suspend reporting requirements and evaluative site visits. “Any hour an organization spends filling out donor reports or preparing for donor visits distracts from planning and responding to this crisis.”  

    The Community Foundation of St. Clair County has launched a COVID-19-specific grant application. The form streamlines the grant application process. 

    Provide Clear Direction Around Changes to Existing Grant Programs: Communicate with nonprofit grantees regarding any potential changes to the foundation’s grantmaking. With fluctuations in staffing and priorities, any deadlines or submission processes that change should be clearly described within the foundation’s materials or highlighted in web or social media formats. If the foundation is adding a special or emergency fund in response to COVID-19 or economic volatility, make that information clear to grantees with realistic and responsive deadlines and expectations noted.  

    Connect and Collaborate: Work with other funders and nonprofits to strategically address needs within the funding region. Each foundation and nonprofit has strengths and areas of expertise that can be called upon within this complex situation.  

    In her article, “How to Help the Most Vulnerable Through the Pandemic” author Lauren A. Smith, co-CEO of a nonprofit consulting firm, and a former doctor and public health official, shares, “Foundations can leverage their considerable convening power to help community stakeholders, business leaders and public sector leaders collaborate to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive response. Raise your voice and help raise the voices of your grantees and the communities they serve—our elected officials need to know what is and isn’t working. Use your influence to advocate for sustaining critical public health and community support infrastructure when we are not in crisis.” However, Smith also advises that foundations tap into existing local structures when possible, to avoid creating confusion or stress in an already tense situation.    

    Think Multiple Layers Deep in Outcomes: In working across diverse populations and geographic regions, foundations and their nonprofit partners will face new and emerging needs resulting from social distancing policies and other non-traditional patterns of activity within the community. For example, school closures impact food programs designed for children and other services that can cause a detrimental economic effect on vulnerable populations. By collaborating with local government, school districts, nonprofits and other partners, foundations can direct funding to these important needs within their community.  

  • What is the value of operational versus programmatic grants in this environment?

    Several sources have recently recommended that foundations prioritize operational grants. Within the current environment, both operational and programmatic grantmaking strategies are exceptionally valuable and both are needed across the nonprofit sector to ensure the survival of as many organizations as possible through a period of economic volatility and community need. 

    Programmatic grants make up a significant portion of modern-day grantmaking strategies. Nonprofits depend on this funding to implement cutting-edge programs and drive impact for the populations they serve. In times of uncertainty and upheaval, nonprofits will be actively implementing innovative strategies to serve individuals within their communities. They are depending on foundations to continue to provide this type of support at or above their current levels.  

    Operational grants are somewhat less common within an impact-driven grantmaking strategy. However, nonprofits facing uncertain financial situations (given fluctuations in endowments, fewer people through the door, etc.) greatly benefit from funding that ensures they can keep their doors open and their staff employed. Grants intended to address operations generally allow nonprofits much-needed time and resources until their financial situation and local community are able to stabilize.    

    In helping to respond to the pandemic in Washington, the Seattle Foundation created a rapid response fund in collaboration with philanthropy, government and business partners. 

    They explain, “One-time operating grants will fund organizations that have deep roots in community and strong experience working with residents without health insurance and/or access to sick days, people with limited English language proficiency, healthcare and gig economy workers, and communities of color, among others. The Fund is designed to complement the work of public health officials and expand local capacity to address all aspects of the outbreak as efficiently as possible.” 

  • How can the foundation change existing grant agreements to allow for unrestricted use of funds or for other purposes, as a result of COVID-19?

    Even with COVID-19 impacting foundations and nonprofit operations, the foundation can follow existing internal policies or procedures that influence how grant agreements are amended. If these policies do not provide for a rapid response approach to amendments, internal discussion with foundation leadership should take place to determine appropriate measures for addressing changes to existing grants and potential temporary changes to internal procedures. 

    Generally, grant agreements can be changed via an amendment document signed by both the foundation (grantor) and the nonprofit/recipient (grantee). This amendment may be formatted as a letter or relatively short document, which should be saved along with a full copy of the original grant agreement. It is important to maintain written documentation that records the mutual agreement of both the foundation and the grantee in regards to any changes being made to the original grant agreement. In some cases, amended grant agreements may be able to be signed electronically or via email, although this activity varies by state. 

    The COVID-19 situation may result in changes to grant agreements, in such areas as:  

    -Changes of grants from restricted to unrestricted use of funds. 
    -Extending the time period in which grant dollars can be used. 
    -Influencing the goals or scope of work being carried out by the nonprofits with the grant dollars. 
    -Use of grant dollars for general operational, rather than programmatic, purposes. 

    In making changes to existing grant agreements, please ensure that all legal restrictions on the use of grant dollars are still maintained. For example, private foundations still face restrictions on the ways in which they can provide grants to individuals or for certain advocacy/lobbying purposes.   

    Please consult qualified tax or legal counsel for clarification on grantmaking procedures outside of standard activities. 

  • What communication guidelines might we consider when connecting with our stakeholders? Do you have examples?

     CMF has put together these general suggestions to consider when connecting with your stakeholders (i.e. community members): 

    -Stay people-centered with a focus on community, health and safety. 
    -Recognize the equity issues involved in the crisis, including the impact on vulnerable populations. 
    -Consider the role that all play in community resiliency; this may be a long journey with many phases of crisis to address. 
    -Acknowledge the nonprofits you work with, with the foundation as a partner and supporter. 
    -Acknowledge your partners (and name some i.e. United Way, local officials) who are mobilizing to ensure those most in need in the community have access to care, resources, etc. 
    -Communicate how you’re responding, including how you’re working with grantees and changes you’ve made to your procedures.
    -Include action steps of what residents or donors can be doing, and how they can help or contribute. 
    -Provide links and resources to only the most reliable sources, i.e. CDC, WHO, state’s COVID-19 site. 
    -Let your stakeholders know how they can learn more about the foundation’s work and/or when you’ll communicate next. 

    The following are just a few examples of communications that foundations are sharing with stakeholders: 

    The Skillman Foundation has shared with CMF a blog post with their response to COVID-19. 

    The William Davidson Foundation has shared with CMF its e-mailed message responding to COVID-19.

    The Greenville Area Community Foundation (GACF) is one of many community foundations that has launched a webpage specific to COVID-19. GACF’s site includes a direct link to donation information through the local United Way and an overview of the foundation’s response to this pandemic. 

    The Greater Washington Community Foundation shared their message to fundholders. It includes information on a regional emergency fund and protecting staff and stakeholders, as well as an excellent event cancellation notice that included proactive measures considerate of the community impact of the cancellation.

    Looking for additional communication examples? Contact CMF

    Additional communication resources: 

    The Communications Network is a national community of foundation and nonprofit communications professionals. They have a variety of resources related to crisis and public health communications available on their website, and they are currently offering a new listserv open to anyone, including non-members. You can also connect with Michigan-based in this community peers via the ComNetworkDetroit group on Facebook

    Communications professionals from more than 50 U.S. community foundations discussed best practices for messaging their communities and internal teams about the COVID-19 crisis during a March 12, 2020 call, organized by the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative. They have provided a recording of the call as a member resource.

    The Michigan Society of Association Executives, of which CMF is a member, has provided a listing of partners who can support communications, public relations and event planning supports. Please contact Bridget McGuiggan, director of communications and knowledge insights, CMF, for that resource or other communication-related needs. 

  • How can our foundation think through the complex issues of spending policies, payout rates and grantmaking strategy to the COVID-19 outbreak and related economic volatility?

    The complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic and related global economic volatility has led some foundations to reconsider their existing grantmaking strategies and grant budgets. With communities and nonprofit grantees facing numerous challenges related to the COVID-19 situation, grantmakers are being called upon to provide short-, medium- and long-term funding, sometimes in ways that fall outside of their standard grantmaking strategies and procedures. 

    Exponent Philanthropy noted in a recent blog post that small-staffed foundations nationally are considering ways to provide extra or advanced funding to nonprofits. While funders are required to follow a 5% minimum distribution requirement, many funders indicated that they were considering making grants beyond that level in this time of crisis. 

    The National Center for Family Philanthropy encourages foundations to think about their long-term strategy and approach to the COVID-19 situation. They point to creative solutions being suggested by family foundations nationally, including building budgets for contingency grants, revisiting the question of perpetuity, examining current spending policies and taking a long view of the foundation’s assets. Research from the IU Lilly Family School of Family simulated the impact of differing payout rates which showed that foundations in these models could sustain themselves, even while providing additional grants during recession periods.  

    Examining spending policies is a particularly important step, according to Dimple Abichandani of the General Service Foundation. In her article for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Abichandani indicated that the General Service Foundation adapted its previously traditional spending policy to account for external factors that influenced their mission and values. This approach allowed for a “balancing test” that enabled the foundation to respond to current needs and opportunities. In addition to elements of a traditional spending policy (investment returns, operating expenses and perpetuity considerations), the General Service Foundation also began to account for growth goals, meeting current needs, organization mission and grants/programmatic needs. This approach may provide some foundations with a means to reevaluate their spending policy to account for the complex challenges presented by COVID-19.

  • What resources are available for family foundations to think through their approach to COVID-19?

    CMF is partnering with the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) to help address the unique challenges of families responding to COVID-19. We understand the unique nature of this situation, as it threatens the safety of family and friends, our communities, grantees and the operations of foundations themselves. 

    NCFP has recently released, “Leadership in Difficult Times: Guidance for Donors and Giving Families – Responding to the Emerging COVID-19 and Economic Crisis”. This insightful publication focuses on the importance of caring for the health and wellbeing of: ourselves, our family, our team, our grantees and our communities. 

    NCFP also reminds us to prepare for the immediate needs of these stakeholders, as well as preparing for the long-term impact of these challenges. Family philanthropy is being called upon to be flexible and stretch itself to grow in this period of uncertainty and change.  

    We encourage family foundations to regularly check CMF’s event listing above for relevant webinars from CMF and our partners, including programming offered by NCFP.   

  • What can corporate giving programs do in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak?

    Corporate foundations and giving programs vary greatly in their structure. Each institution will need to talk with tax or legal counsel to ensure that their activities are allowed.

    Employee Assistance Programs: Some corporations have an Employee Assistance Program. These programs are typically managed or paid for by the corporation itself, rather than through the foundation. If your organization has such a program, oftentimes managed by an external firm or via the HR department, please contact that group for more information about how that may apply to the COVID-19 outbreak.  

    Corporations may have additional means to support individual employees, such as by providing additional sick leave or extended telecommuting options. See response to "What are some ways that foundations are assisting individuals?" in the question below for other ways foundations are helping individuals during this time. 

    In-Kind Support: During several webinars, Dr. Judy Monroe (CEO of the CDC Foundation) indicated the important role of in-kind donations to provide medical equipment to states facing the COVID-19 outbreak. The CDC Foundation is designed to direct donations to state health departments, as well as national research priorities for COVID-19. Similarly, in-kind donations may be valuable to local nonprofits and institutions serving communities and vulnerable populations.

    Volunteer Support: With social distancing in place across Michigan, volunteer opportunities are somewhat limited. However, healthy individuals may play an important role in ensuring that nonprofits are able to serve children and seniors who need assistance in obtaining food and other services.

    Serve as a Community Partner: The Seattle Foundation’s Rapid Response Fund includes businesses among the many institutions funding grants to assist the COVID-19 response in Washington state.  Other corporations have the opportunity to serve as a natural partner to their local communities, including through emerging funding partnerships and rapid response funds. 

  • Can Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) be used to support the COVID-19 response?

    Yes, donor advised funds can be used to support COVID-19 response.   

    Council on Foundations (COF) notes that in general, DAFs can continue to follow many of the same rules and restrictions that are typically in place and can be used to provide support through domestic public charities. Expenditure responsibility may be required for grants to supporting organizations or non-501(c)(3) organizations. Additionally, grants to organizations outside of the U.S. may have additional requirements.   

    Typically, DAFs cannot be used to assist individuals. With the enactment of the Stafford Act, employer-sponsored DAFs have an exception to benefit employees and their families who are victims of a qualified disaster. Please consult with qualified tax or legal counsel to learn more about the particular circumstances and criteria involved in this form of activity.  

  • How do we create or use a discretionary grant program to make emergency/disaster grants?

    As an alternative to a formalized emergency grantmaking policy, some foundations (more frequently private or family foundations) have the option of using a discretionary grant process to enable more rapid, disaster funds to be disbursed. Discretionary grant programs oftentimes provide trustees and/or senior staff members with a pre-designated amount of funding they can grant to organizations of their choice. Sometimes these grants are limited to the foundation’s existing funding goals, while other institutions allow for broader charitable grants to be made. Foundations also vary in whether application or reporting forms are required for these gifts.

    Discretionary grant programs can work as an alternative to emergency/disaster grantmaking policies, as they frequently have a less rigorous grantee application and board approval process.  In some foundations, these grants can be approved by the CEO or senior staff, which allows for funds to reach nonprofits quickly and efficiently.

    If your foundation is interested in exploring discretionary grants as an option, the National Center for Family Philanthropy has a webpage dedicated to discretionary grants, including sample policies and forms.

  • What are some ways that foundations are assisting individuals?

    As part of the philanthropic sector’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, foundations are actively looking to support individuals directly impacted by the health effects of the pandemic or by social distancing, as well as others suffering from widespread economic effects on nonprofits and businesses. 

    The Council on Foundations also has a useful webpage dedicated to addressing how foundations can create hardship funds and provide assistance to individuals.  

    United Way: Many foundations are looking to regional partnerships to ensure that individuals receive the assistance they need. A number of Michigan community foundations are teaming with their local United Way and other regional partners to meet the needs of their community. The United Way has an established system within most regions of the state to directly address basic needs, while foundations are able to support and provide additional capacity to meet widespread need.   

    Other Nonprofits: Foundations are also working with their existing strategic partners to reach vulnerable populations within their communities. Through emergency and urgent need funds, community funds are specifically reaching the organizations that have established connections to the individuals who need assistance. 

    Employees: The President’s declaration of a national emergency under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act for the COVID-19 pandemic triggers the provisions of Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) Section 139. This section provides guidance to employers for providing “emergency relief payments” to staff without those payments being considered as taxable income to the employee and exempts such payments from being subject to unemployment insurance taxes to the employer.  

    For example, during this type of extreme need if employers should provide additional medical assistance not already covered or child care through direct employee payments, those would not be taxable to either the employee or employer provided that it meets the eligibility qualifications as outlined. Further, during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, the IRS issued a notice which references Publication 3833Disaster Relief: Providing Assistance Through Charitable Organizations. This publication provides additional guidance on how charitable organizations, including employer related private foundations, public charities and donor advised funds can make relief payments to individuals or otherwise support these relief efforts. Specifically, the publication offers guidance on establishing disaster relief programs to cover basic necessities for the general public and how private foundations can support employees using foundation assets without being considered self-dealing or requiring additional IRS approval. 

    As described in more detail in this memo drafted for corporate clients by Jennifer Oertel, a CMF member, shareholder with Bodman PLC and CMF’s Impact Investing Expert in Residence, the rules against impermissible private benefit, self-dealing, and recipient charitable class still apply. It is posted for informational purposes only and not inteded as legal advice.  

  • What are some of the ways nonprofits are thinking creatively and reaching out to communities while serving their mission?

    Some nonprofits are serving on the front lines in order to meet urgent health and social service needs. Organizations like Gleaners and Kids’ Food Basket are working to bring food to children out of school, expanding upon their existing operations through increased donations and volunteers. 

    Other nonprofits and institutions are thinking about their missions in new creative ways. While museums are closed and public performances cancelled, arts institutions are being creative about reaching audiences at home, where entertainment may be greatly needed in social distancing conditions. The Metropolitan Opera announced that it is launching a “Nightly Met Opera Stream” for free. PBS Kids has built upon its strengths in educational programming to offer daily activities and tips for children home from school. 

  • What are some examples of how foundations are assisting local and small businesses?

    Foundations are actively using their local connections and partnerships to assist businesses facing financial challenges. 

    Chambers of Commerce and Economic Partnerships: Foundations can work in collaboration with chambers of commerce, local governments and businesses as active partners in addressing community needs. As part of a network of institutions, foundations can assist in supporting the economic welfare of small businesses and their employees. (Please note that foundations may face restrictions for some economic development grants or those directed to non-501(c)(3) organizations. Consult with tax or legal counsel before making these grants.) 

    Foundations have found additional ways to support local businesses, such as ordering food from local restaurants and continuing to rely on established partnerships for office space and services.   

    CDFIs: Partnerships with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are also an important means for foundations to support small businesses. Through Program Related Investments (PRIs) and other avenues, foundations can help local and small businesses gain access to loans that ensure they can survive through this period of economic volatility.  

  • What other resources are available related to support for small businesses?

    Through its Michigan Small Business Relief Program, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) will provide up to $20 million in support for small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19. The funding is divided between $10 million in small business grants and $10 million in small business loans. 

    MEDC’s Pure Michigan Business Connect program is expanding its free, online procurement platform by now including donations from suppliers capable of filling health and human service needs across a broad range of product and service categories. The platform will provide direct access to businesses within the state providing supplies including personal protection equipment, food, medical devices, paper products, cleaning equipment and more. The platform is also offering a place for companies with manufacturing capabilities for personal protection equipment to indicate which items (i.e. masks, gowns, ventilators) they are able to produce, along with quantity and timing detail. Service providers seeking access to supplies and suppliers who have items to support COVID-19 response efforts can learn more on the Business Connect website

    Additional resources on COVID-19 related to business are available from Business Leaders for Michigan, the Small Business Association of Michigan, and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce

  • How are foundations assisting nonprofits with cash flow issues?

    Foundations are actively assisting nonprofits with cash flow issues, especially as many organizations are temporary closed or facing unprecedented demand for services. 

    Cash Flow Loans: The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation recently announced a program for short-term cash flow loans for local nonprofits, up to $50,000 for each organization. Other community foundations throughout the state are also exploring cash flow loans for local nonprofits, including through the use of Program Related Investments (PRIs). 

    Operating Support Grants: Many foundations throughout the state are looking at ways to prioritize operational support for nonprofits. Realizing that some nonprofit programs are essential to meeting basic needs or ensuring the health and safety of communities, foundations are actively prioritizing their grantmaking to ensure that nonprofits receive critical funding to continue operations and meet demand. 

  • What resources are available for funders looking to support efforts connected to early childhood and childcare?

    The Early Childhood Funders Collaborative (ECFC) has built-out a page of resources specifically for funders whose grantmaking includes early childhood needs. ECFC advises, “Philanthropy should consider how to target investments to have the most impact, augmenting and supplementing other public and private responses without reducing the responsibility and obligation of the public sector.” They have identified a preliminary list of emerging needs, curated a growing list of sample materials from funders nationally and identified tools specific to advocacy.

  • What resources are available to find out more about the philanthropic sector’s response to COVID-19?

    Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) are tracking the sector’s response. As of March 13, Candid indicated over $1.3 billion in total giving to COVID-19 related efforts globally, from 167 funders. Candid's disaster funding map tracks giving to disasters, including giving to COVID-19.

    The Council on Foundations is asking foundations to share their responses to COVID-19 through a pair of forms on its website. Data from the surveys will be shared in aggregate as resources to gain a better sense of what’s happening in the field. The COF resource hub includes updates, announcements and other tools, as well. 

    The Center for Disease Philanthropy’s COVID-19-dedicated webpage includes information on impact, critical needs and how to help. 

    The Chronicle on Philanthropy has made their COVID-19 coverage free of charge.

    The Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative has launched a webpage to track the responses of community foundations nationwide.

    National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) and Giving Compass are working together to track the responses of family foundations nationwide.

Internal Procedures

  • How can we implement a telecommuting/work from home policy for the foundation? What might we need to keep in mind when encouraging staff to work from home?

    As part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, organizations within impacted regions may require that staff work remotely. To prepare for this possibility, foundations can create or review their remote worker policy, which may be contained within a broader HR/staff handbook or related policy. The National Council of Nonprofits has a wealth of resources around this topic specifically. 

    Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) has shared with CMF that in addition to asking staff to stay home if they feel sick and err on the side of caution, employees are encouraged to work remotely to the extent they can without disrupting core operations and have prior permission from their supervisors. AAACF staff working remotely must: 

    -Be reachable by phone, as well as be available for video call when needed, and active on email during regular business hours. 

    -Update their calendar to indicate remote status and include the number at which they can be reached. 

    -Forward their office phone to their remote number during business hours. 

    -Discuss with their supervisor any additional job-related expectations relating to working remotely. 

    -Be able to demonstrate progress on work being performed remotely.

    AAACF has provided as a sample for CMF members a full copy of their staff message sent March 13, 2020.

  • Can staff travel to the foundation’s building to conduct essential business under the current “Stay at Home” order?

    Current guidance indicates that organizations can have employees on site to “conduct minimum basic operations” for the purpose of maintaining the value of inventory; maintaining the value of equipment; for security; to process transactions (including payroll and benefits); or to facilitate working from home.

    Until March 31, 2020, employees responsible for maintaining basic operations must be pre-designated.  As of April 1, 2020, employees will need to have a letter they can show to authorities if they require an exemption from the Stay at Home Order to conduct basic operations at the foundation’s offices. 

    Employees working on site should be restricted to the minimum number of hours possible and with staggered schedules to minimize contact. Likewise, employees should follow CDC recommendations for social distancing, frequent hand washing and increased office cleaning/disinfecting procedures.  

    For additional information about how Michigan’s Stay at Home procedures impact foundation operations, please read Jennifer Oertel’s recent memo.


  • How can foundation staff handle the issue of retrieving U.S. mail under the Stay at Home order?

    Foundations should clearly communicate via organizational websites and email signatures that staff are working remotely and that U.S. mail is not being checked regularly. 

    Each organization may also designate an employee to go into the physical office (see question regarding conducting essential business, above). This person may sort mail, create PDF copies of correspondence by email to appropriate people (when necessary), and gather and deposit checks. Most organizations can function by checking mail only once or twice a week.   

    Staff members working within the foundation’s physical office should follow guidance for maintaining a safe workplace and minimize time spent on site. If it is unsafe for only one employee to go to the office alone, then employees should follow guidance for social distancing.   

    For additional information about how Michigan’s Stay at Home procedures impact foundation operations, please read Jennifer Oertel’s recent memo.


  • What are foundations doing when it comes to staff travel for work-related events, conferences and meetings?

    In general, CMF is seeing a number of organizations asking or requiring staff to connect by web or phone instead of meeting in person. In talking with CMF members and a variety of partner organizations, we are seeing a variety of additional protocols in place for staff related to travel for meetings and events, such as the following (either individually or in combination):  

    -Asking staff to use their best judgment in making work-related travel plans.  

    -Limiting staff travel based on the number of attendees. 

    -Limiting staff travel based on the location / destination. 

    -Limiting staff travel based on the content (attending only if it is essential). 

    -Canceling all staff travel. 


  • What is the role of the board in response to the COVID-19 situation?

    According to our colleagues at BoardSource, board members have numerous responsibilities in addressing the impact of COVID-19 on their organization.   

    Whether your foundation has few or many staff members, the board may be involved in the following areas: 

    Risk Assessment and Management: The board should assist the CEO with determining internal and external risks associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, including its impact on key stakeholders, internal staff and the financial health of the institution. With that information in mind, the organization can then develop an appropriate plan for managing those risks. 

    Organizational Event Contingency Planning: While social distancing policies and CDC recommendations have led to the cancellation of events, the board can play an important role in determining the impact of these cancellations and help identify contingencies that ensure the organization’s financial welfare.  

    Finances and Investments: With the economic repercussions of COVID-19 on the global economy, boards are being called upon to make important decisions around institutional finances and investments. For foundations, these discussions also involve determinations around payout rates for grantmaking, especially in the face of higher demand for philanthropic funding across the nonprofit sector.  

    Staff and Stakeholder Safety: With many foundations implementing remote worker policies, board members still must keep in mind the safety of staff and stakeholders. Business continuity plans and human resource policies should be in place to ensure that critical functions of the foundation continue even if staff are sick or away from the office. 

    Board Meetings and Decision-Making Practices: Board business will need to continue throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, even with restrictions in place. Many foundations are encountering increased demands on staff and board members, resulting in more frequent meetings and decisions around policies and grantmaking.  

    Communications: Board members serve as ambassadors for the foundation and play an essential role (along with the CEO) in crisis communications by sharing with the staff what they are hearing on the ground and sharing back through their networks information that the foundation has prepared for dissemination.  

    Continual Assessment: With the evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation, board members should work together with the CEO to ensure the foundation is appropriately responding to emerging challenges and information, maintaining appropriate lanes to allow the CEO to do their job effectively. 


  • Can the foundation hold a “virtual” board meeting or does it have to conduct its board meetings in person?

    It depends. Each state has different laws regarding to what degree electronic communications can be used to conduct board meetings. Within Michigan, organizations can conduct board meetings virtually, as long as all participants are able to communicate.  

    However, not all foundations have up-to-date bylaws and board procedures that allow them to take advantage of electronic communication options. CMF highly recommends that foundations regularly review their existing board procedures. Depending on the year that bylaws and other board procedures documents were created or updated, they may easily pre-date recent changes in state nonprofit law, including updates that allow for the use of modern remote communication and voting options.  

    Boards should always review bylaws and other board-specific documents first before making any decisions or holding votes outside of regularly scheduled, normally formatted meetings of the full board. While virtual meetings may be an option for foundations, use caution before utilizing phone or online meetings for board meetings and voting. If this is not a standard practice of the foundation, please contact legal counsel for clarification regarding your board procedures.  

    For more information, Board Source has resources on virtual board meetings. BoardSource is also making its “Virtual Meetings Untangled” publication free during the COVID-19 situation.  

    For additional tips on streamlining virtual board meetings, BoardSource board chair, Cathy Trower released a recent blog post on best practices. She recommends focusing on the essential components of the meeting, setting ground rules and keeping the meeting to two hours or less. Her 12 suggestions focus on the importance of the board’s leadership and overall effectiveness that are worthwhile considerations whether meeting in person or virtually.  


  • We have a variety of upcoming events that the foundation is hosting or leading. What are some key considerations we may want to think about in deciding if the events should proceed in person, be changed to virtual meetings, be postponed or canceled?

    There are many factors that go into this decision making around hosting meetings and events. The CDC has issued interim guidance related to mass gatherings and large community events before, during and after an outbreak has occurred in the community. Additionally, news from the State as of March 13, 2020, indicates that in addition to mitigation strategies already shared (last updated March 11, 2020), Governor Whitmer issued an executive order canceling most gatherings of more than 250 people. 

    For CMF, there are several other considerations we take into account:  

    Health and Safety – It is imperative we are aligned with current mitigation guidelines release by the State, along with guidance from the CDC and other official agencies. Our decision making keeps the health and safety of participants as the top priority in event planning considerations. 

    Immediacy – We consider whether the content is time sensitive or in some way urgent, or whether it can wait, in which case postponement may be the most appropriate option.  

    Format – We look at whether the content can be adapted for a virtual (web-based or call-in) format, or perhaps conveyed as a written message sent via email. There may be times when in-person dialogue or interaction is critical, and so again, delaying the event may be appropriate until in-person gatherings can resume. 

    Impact – Key in our thinking is the impact a cancellation or postponement would have on those supporting the event in some way. This includes not only participants and hosts or speakers, but also the surrounding community, venue staff, vendors and many others connected to the program or meeting.  


  • Where can I find related legal resources?

    Jennifer Oertel, a CMF member, shareholder with Bodman PLC and CMF’s Impact Investing Expert in Residence, has shared with CMF Bodman PLC's answers to several legal questions related to workplace law, employee benefits, and more. 


  • What other resources are available for our foundation as employers?

    The AAIM Employers’ Association has provided access to a recorded webinar addressing the points shared below. Please note that while it is free, sign-in is required for access. 

    -Can proof of a negative coronavirus result be required before allowing an employee in self-quarantine to return to work? 

    -How should employers handle an employee who may have been exposed to the virus? 

    -If an employee contracts the virus at work, should it be treated as workers' compensation? 

    -What options are there when an employee refuses to self-quarantine after returning from a personal trip to a level three country? 

    The Management Center has written an article "5 Tips for Managing Remotely During COVID-19."

    The New Horizons Computer Center has a slate of free webinars for work from home training.


  • Can the foundation use electronic signatures or e-mail messages to conduct foundation business or make changes to grant agreements? Specifically, what suffices as a legal signature, given how many foundations are currently working remotely?

    With current “Stay at Home” policies in place across Michigan, many foundations are managing all operations virtually, including the development and amendment of grant agreements. 

    Michigan adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act in 2000, which dictates how organizations can use electronic documents and transactions. If both parties involved in a given transaction agree to use electronic signatures, then an electronic document is sufficient.  

    In many cases, foundations and other organizations use a photocopied or electronically-generated PDF signature to conduct business remotely. If this is inconvenient or impossible, the foundation may be able to use e-mail to state out changes to grant agreements (for example) and then request that the other party (a grantee, in this case) should reply by email indicating that they agree to the amendments listed in the original email. In these agreements, both parties should be in agreement, as if their signature were affixed to a paper document.  

    Please note that the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and similar federal policy does not apply to certain business contracts or estate planning documents. Please consult with appropriate legal counsel regarding any specific concerns that could impact foundation business in these areas.  

    (Information related to this question was provided in part by Jennifer Oertel, a CMF member, shareholder with Bodman PLC and CMF’s Impact Investing Expert in Residence.)


Relief and Response Funds in MI

  • What relief funds have been set up in response to COVID-19?

    Grand Haven Emergency Human Needs Fund 
    This fund will provide critical support to agencies providing vital services such as access to food and basic hygiene, caring for senior citizens and overall basic needs. The fund is housed at the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation. 

    Greater Flint Urgent Relief Fund 
    The Greater Flint Urgent Relief Fund has been established by a coalition of philanthropic, government and business partners to quickly coordinate and deploy resources to nonprofit organizations in the Greater Flint area that are working with communities disproportionately affected by the coronavirus outbreak. This fund is supported by the Community Foundation of Greater Flint. 

    Holland/Zeeland Emergency Human Needs Fund 
    This fund will provide critical support to agencies providing vital services such as access to food and basic hygiene, caring for our senior citizens and overall basic needs. The fund is housed at the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area. 

    Kalamazoo Community Foundation Urgent Relief Fund 
    The Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF) in partnership with United Way Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region has activated its respective community crisis relief funds to address emerging needs surfacing in key services for their most vulnerable community members. Funds will be used to assist with immediate and anticipated direct service needs, such as: access to food, child care and nonprofit operation. 

    Kent County Coronavirus Relief Fund 
    Heart of West Michigan United Way, in partnership with local foundations and funders, has established a Kent County Coronavirus Response Fund for people to donate to help meet immediate needs in the community related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund will support the nonprofits who are serving vulnerable populations during this time. United Way will match up to $50,000 in donations. The Grand Rapids Community Foundation is a fund partner. 

    Marquette County Community Response Fund  
    Administered by the Community Foundation of Marquette County, the COVID-19 Community Response Fund for Marquette County will provide flexible resources to organizations in our area working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the economic impact of this outbreak. 

    Midland County Response/Disaster Relief Fund  
    The Midland Area Community Foundation (MACF) has launched the Midland County COVID-19 Response/Disaster Relief Fund to provide for response both short- and long-term in Midland County as needed in consultation with the Midland County COVID-19 Coalition. MACF is putting $500,000 into the response fund, half for nonprofit support and half for individual assistance. The foundation is working in tandem with United Way of Midland County on the allocation of nonprofit grant funds. In addition, MACF placed $250,000 in a 0% business loan fund (the "COVID-19 Impact Investing Project Fund”) to help small businesses in the county that have been impacted by COVID-19 in order to deliver immediate short-term assistance. MACF has shared that they will match up to $250,000 to either the COVID-19 Response Fund or the COVID-19 Impact Investment Fund.  

    Montcalm and Ionia County Crisis Fund 
    The Greenville Area Community Foundation is advising community members to support the United Way of Montcalm and Ionia Counties. Their COVID-19 Crisis Fund aims to ensure resources for planning in times of instability and for recovery when disaster strikes. Dollars are directed to 501(c)3 organizations for use that may include direct services, coordination of relief efforts, coordination of relief volunteers and costs related to building and sustaining relief infrastructure. They have shared that 100% of donations stay local to Montcalm and Ionia Counties for basic needs supports.  

    Isabella County COVID-19 Community Response Fund 
    Administered by the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation, the COVID-19 Community Response Fund for Isabella County will provide flexible resources to organizations in our area working with communities who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the economic impact of this outbreak.  

    Otsego County Response Fund 
    This fund will provide critical support to local agencies providing vital services such as access to food and personal care items, services for senior citizens and overall basic needs. This fund is supported by the Otsego Community Foundation. 

    Southeastern Michigan United Way Community Response Fund 
    DTE Energy, the Gilbert Family Foundation, Quicken Loans Community Fund, The Skillman Foundation, Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan are all contributors to this fund, which will be used for a multitude of efforts to help with recovery, including: food distribution to students affected by school closures and other vulnerable populations that are isolated or lack access; availability of shelter beds for people experiencing homelessness who do not have the resources needed to stay safe; operational funding gaps for health and human service agencies; loss of income and access to services for vulnerable populations; and supporting college students who face barriers as they complete their education. 

    Southeast Michigan COVID-19 Community Assistance Fund 
    In response to the impact of COVID-19, the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation has created a fund to assist organizations responding to the emerging critical needs of impoverished, vulnerable children, families and individuals, residing in the foundation’s geographic focus areas of Southeast Michigan, City and County of Denver, CO and the Aspen-Parachute Corridor in Colorado. 

    The Southwest Michigan Cares Fund  
    The Berrien Community Foundation and United Way of Southwest Michigan are working together to administer the fund. The initial focus area of the fund is immediate response for nonprofits providing emergent basic human needs. The fund will then consider grants addressing the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Other supporters include the Hanson Family Foundation, Spectrum Health Lakeland, Whirlpool Corp., the American Electric Power Foundation, the Frederick S. Upton Foundation, Meijer and individual donors. 

    Thumb Coast Regional Response Fund 
    Any gifts made to the fund will support local nonprofit organizations, schools and appropriate units of local government who are on the front lines of helping our region manage this evolving crisis. This fund was created by the Community Foundation of St. Clair County. 

    Urgent Needs Fund 
    Donations will be used to grant funds to local nonprofit, governmental, and educational organizations that are providing vital services such as access to food and basic hygiene, caring for senior citizens, supporting utility and rental assistance, and overall basic needs that are impacting and benefitting communities across Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau Counties. The Urgent Needs Fund received initial funding from several CMF members including the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, Oleson FoundationRotary Charities of Traverse City, DTE Foundation, Herrington-Fitch Family Foundation and Jim and Diana Huckle Family Foundation. 

    Washtenaw County Community Relief Fund 
    The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation is among the organizations supporting the United Way of Washtenaw County's COVID-19 Community Relief Fund to help meet critical and emerging needs of the local community amid the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, funds will go toward helping nonprofit agencies meet the needs of those most vulnerable during the crisis, including children, those who need food, families facing loss of income due to health issues, business closures and those currently experiencing a housing crisis. 

    A listing of local United Way response and relief funds can be found here.

    Are you aware of a relief and response fund led by or supported by Michigan philanthropy not listed here? Contact CMF.

    The National Center for Family Philanthropy also maintains an interactive map of funds including and outside of Michigan.

  • How are Michigan-based foundations giving in response to COVID-19?

    Some foundations are also making contributions directly to nonprofits. These are just a few examples: 

    Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is providing $500,000 to support the efforts of community-based organizations across Michigan to provide meals to vulnerable children due to school closures, and efforts to protect seniors and other populations in need. 

    The Consumers Energy Foundation is supporting two statewide organizations with a $500,000 contribution to help enhance critical services for Michigan children, vulnerable seniors and those who may need assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Food Bank Council of Michigan and the Michigan Association of United Ways will each receive $250,000. Consumers Energy has also enhanced its Matching Gifts Program focusing on matching employee contributions to food banks/pantries, homeless shelters, community foundations and the United Way. Through May 31 donations from CMS and Consumers Energy employees will be matched without restriction.  

State News & Policy Alerts 

  • How are foundations communicating policy alerts to their stakeholders?

    In this example from The Skillman Foundation, program staff reached out to their grant partners to share a message of support and identify newly available resources. They also referenced the federal stimulus deal, linking to a story in local media. As foundations communicate with grantees and other stakeholders, you may want to include similar policy alerts, helping connect community members with key legislative issues and resources to learn more. 

  • What critical response and relief needs have been identified by the Michigan Department of Education in supporting our state’s students, educators and schools?

    The CMF P-20 Education Affinity Group hosted a conversation on March 26, 2020, with State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice to collectively discuss the state’s response to COVID-19 and how philanthropy can serve as a partner. View the recording.

  • What is the first part (Phase 1) of COVID-19 federal legislation, H.R. 6074?

    Phase 1 of COVID-19 legislation, H.R. 6074, is the “Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act.” It was enacted into law March 6, 2020, and provides $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to ensure vaccines developed to fight the coronavirus are affordable, that impacted small businesses can qualify for Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans and that Medicare recipients can consult with their providers by telephone or teleconference, if necessary or desired. View the official bill summary.  

  • What is the second part (Phase 2) of COVID-19 federal legislation, H.R. 6201?

    Phase 2 of COVID-19 legislation, H.R. 6201, is the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (FFCRA). This measure responds to the COVID-19 outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers. The bill also provides FY2020 appropriations to the Department of Health and Human Services for nutrition programs that assist seniors. View the official bill summary.   
    Rep. Debbie Dingell, who represents the 12th District of Michigan in the U.S. House of Representatives, spoke with CMF members about provisions in H.R. 6201 on March 14, 2020. Listen to the full recording to hear Rep. Dingell's insights and analysis, including where gaps may exist in the relief and response efforts around COVID-19 and where philanthropy can play a role.   

    Note: CMF invited all of its email subscribers to join this call as a learning opportunity, to inform grantmakers, therefore content from this conversation is not to be repurposed in any other publication without express permission.   

  • What is the third part (Phase 3) of COVID-19 federal legislation, S. 3548?

    Phase 3 of COVID-19 legislation, S. 3548, is the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act). This measure provides significant funding for businesses, hospitals, schools and social support programs, among many other components. 

    As of March 26, 2020: The Senate passed the CARES Act. It is anticipated that the House will convene on the morning of March 27, 2020. It is expected that the bill will pass via voice vote. President Trump has indicated his intent to sign the bill.  

    Our sector partner, the National Council of Nonprofits, has released an initial analysis on the bill

  • How can I learn more about the State of Michigan’s response and access state-provided resources?

    Visit for information on what Michigan is doing to combat the spread of COVID-19, and access fact sheets and a tool to find your local health department. On that same webpage is a link to subscribe to emailed updates from the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS). 

    On March 26, 2020, CMF hosted a virtual meeting with Governor Gretchen Whitmer and members of her cabinet for a discussion on priorities and concerns during this unprecedented time of need. View meeting recording.

    The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced the launch of a statewide hotline to respond to health-related questions about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Public health and other experts will answer health-related questions about COVID-19. The team can also direct residents, providers and more to the right resources in their local communities and in other state government departments. The hotline will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-888-535-6136. MDHHS announces that staff cannot provide individual clinical advice or a diagnosis through the hotline and those who believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 and are symptomatic should call their health care provider. 

  • What are the State of Michigan’s virus mitigation strategies?

    All individuals should take the following basic personal-hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the virus:

    -Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
    -Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
    -Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
    -Avoid handshakes.
    -Avoid contact with sick people who are sick.
    -Stay home when you are sick.

    The MDHHS interim recommendations for community mitigation strategies include recommendations specific to a variety of groups, including individuals and families at home, workplaces and community organizations. More information is available on the State’s COVID-19 webpage, including versions in Spanish and Arabic.  

  • Where can I find information about Executive Orders and Directives enacted for the State of Michigan?

    A list of executive orders and directives pertaining to COVID-19 can be found here.

  • How can I learn more about various state and local government responses to COVID-19 around the country?

    The government relations firm Stateside is maintaining information on state and local government responses to COVID-19. Their reporting includes state legislation and executive orders related to paid leave proposals, mandated business closures, appropriations for state responses to the outbreak and executive actions such as the creation of task forces and declarations of emergency. Selected agency, regulatory and rulemaking actions are also being included as they are announced or emerge. 

Have a question?

We will continue to update this webpage with new Q&A items. If you have a question not shown here, we invite you to reach out via Ask CMF, a technical assistance service available to all CMF members. Non-members may also submit suggested questions for this portion of our website by emailing Brittany Kienker, Ph.D., at [email protected]Or, to reach a CMF staff member, visit our team page

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CMF COVID-19 Response

We are grateful for you, our members and partners, for your leadership and collaborative spirit during such an unprecedented time in all our lives and our work. At CMF we are thinking of each of you and your families as you navigate many unique challenges while working to capture and address critical needs emerging from our communities. We want to share with you efforts that are underway at CMF to support you in this journey.

CMF has been highly active behind the scenes to provide comprehensive support to members and thought leadership for the field around COVID-19, adapting as quickly as we can in this dynamic environment, working in concert with partners and connecting with policymakers. Below is a snapshot of key efforts underway now. Let us know if there are other ways CMF, as your association, can be of service. 

We launched and are continuing to update this webpage to provide a centralized space to help members understand the crisis, what various sectors are doing and how other grantmakers are responding.  

We signed onto a joint statement from philanthropy serving organizations on the importance of keeping equity at the forefront in philanthropy’s response to the coronavirus. We are committed to helping our sector respond effectively, and in doing so, we are particularly attentive to ways in which this outbreak may exacerbate inequities.

CMF is convening weekly calls with the Michigan Nonprofit Association, Michigan Association of United Ways and the Michigan Community Service Commission to be sure we are coordinating efforts around emergency assistance especially as it relates to fiscal and human capital. We will also be reaching out to MEDC, MSHDA and other agencies where we have unique connections to begin to prepare for the next stage of the pandemic.

The health and safety of our members, staff and their families is our highest priority, and as such we are transitioning CMF events in March and April that were to be held in person to virtual engagements or they are being rescheduled. If you have already registered for a March or April event, we will reach out with updated information. Registration is currently open for several upcoming CMF webinars, as shown on our events calendar.

Our Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL) and policy teams are working with Governor Gretchen Whitmer's administration, the Michigan Legislature and members of Congress, as well as key federal agencies. We are informing policymakers of what we see as needs on the ground and the roles philanthropy can step into during the pandemic. This dialogue builds on conversations both during and immediately after our visits to Washington, D.C. as part of Foundations on the Hill.

We are setting up briefing calls with the governor and her team and members of Congress in the Michigan delegation regarding the current response legislation as well as upcoming legislation we know will be in the pipeline to address fiscal stimulus and other recovery issues.

The OFL is working in partnership with cabinet heads to address issues related to food distribution, workforce supports, education and vulnerable populations. We’re also advancing policy recommendations and concerns coming from CMF members and affinity groups to leverage the problem solving capacity of the sector and lay the groundwork for a coordinated public/private response as the crisis evolves. 

We are developing a series of calls and webinars around the short-, medium- and long-term issues connected to COVID-19 response and relief efforts, recognizing this is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re looking to fill gaps in information, support continued collaboration and resource sharing, and create opportunity to hear directly from thought leaders, all within the context of relevance for Michigan philanthropy.

To model preventative measures of social distancing to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, CMF staff are now working remotely. All staff can still be reached via their office phone numbers and email. We currently anticipate returning to our offices once the state of Michigan and Governor Gretchen Whitmer deem it is safe and advisable for all Michigan businesses and operations to return to regular in-person operations.

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