The Download: July 27, 2020

Monday, July 27, 2020

COVID-19 Scenario Planning for the Social Sector

As the pandemic continues we are all living and working in uncertainty. A new guide hopes to help our sector plan for the various scenarios that may present themselves in the next year and beyond.

The Monitor Institute by Deloitte, a social change consultancy has released An Event or an Era?: Resources for Social Sector Decision-Making in the Context of COVID-19, to provide information to help philanthropy and nonprofit leaders prepare for possible outcomes of the pandemic.

The guide outlines how the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, creating significant challenges for our communities, stating in part, “The COVID-19 crisis isn’t occurring in isolation. The activism for racial justice taking place across the nation is intersecting with the health and economic disparities laid bare by the virus. The COVID crisis will increasingly serve as a compounding backdrop for many other issues we face.”

In April and May Deloitte interviewed over 75 leaders in the social sector to gather their insights and explore potential scenarios that may play out over the next 12 to 18 months. The guide lifts up various potential scenarios centered on the COVID-19 crisis, applying a racial equity lens to help inform the sector’s scenario planning efforts and future thinking.

Highlights from the guide:

What We Know Now

  • The crisis is widening gaps and exposing long-standing inequities and disparities that are embedded in our communities, particularly in health care and access and education. The guide states, “it is clear that the economic and health disparities in the impacts of the pandemic will be part of a larger conversation on racial inequity—while at the same time racial inequity becomes an inextricable part of the conversation about COVID-19.”

  • The need for services and assistance is straining the capacity and resources of nonprofits.

  • A significant number of nonprofits may be forced to consolidate or close their doors due to the significant financial impact of the crisis.

  • The impact of the crisis will fall disproportionately on communities of color and other marginalized populations. The guide shares that aHeightened risk of exposure of frontline workers, worse access to health care and disproportionate risk of job and business loss all hit marginalized groups harder” during this pandemic. “This has exacerbated already existing inequities. And community-based nonprofits led by people of color, which typically have less access to capital, will likely be at greater risk for insolvency."

  • Differences in outbreak rates and reopening strategies will cause varying levels of crises and need across geographies and time

What is Still Uncertain

  • The duration of the pandemic.

  • The length and severity of the economic downturn.

  • The government’s response and the strength of the public social safety net. The guide shares, “In many parts of the country, it remains unclear whether government safety net programs will be sufficient to keep individuals from falling through the cracks. And uneven access to stimulus funds will have enormous implications across communities.”

  • The impact of technology on operating models. While schools and many workplaces shifted to virtual during this public health crisis it’s unclear how much will remain virtual in some form following the crisis.

  • The level of social cooperation across communities. The guide shares how social cohesion and working together across lines of difference are critical in crises but it’s unclear at what level we may see that happen in our current polarized social climate.

Based on these discussion points the guide provides four possible scenarios ranging from a “return to normal” to “rising from the ashes” and everything in between.

Deloitte provides guidance for the social sector to prepare for all four possible scenarios, such as identifying underlying values and their roles and influence in their communities; creating a plan for quick adaptation as scenarios change; focusing on equity; and monitoring factors that may indicate one or more scenarios.

In each scenario, the guide also provides questions and thoughts for philanthropy and nonprofits to consider as well as providing a racial equity lens.

There are also key takeaways for the social sector to consider in their planning; outlined below are key issues that emerged during their interviews with sector leaders earlier this spring.

Key takeaways:

  • We are dealing with multiple, compounding crises. One leader who was interviewed said, “We’re now dealing with three crises at the same time: a health crisis, an economic crisis, and a social justice crisis.” The guide states that COVID-19 is “not only a ‘lead story’ but also the background setting in which other crises are playing out.” 

  • Nonprofits and funders will live in the same context but have different experiences. While funders and nonprofits are partnering and working together in new and different ways to ensure community needs are met, the pandemic is expected to have “far greater and more lasting financial and operational distress for nonprofits.”

  • The role of the social sector will be significantly determined by how federal, state and local governments are able to respond to the crisis. Budgetary constraints may limit state and local governments to adequately fund critical social services and it's unclear what this means for the role of the social sector.

  • How private funders respond to a potentially significant nonprofit contraction will matter. “If earned revenue, individual donations, and government contracts to nonprofits dry up, institutional funders will often be the last backstop for many nonprofits and infrastructure organizations,” the guide states while highlighting how the Ford Foundation and other funders are increasing spending to support nonprofits.

“The social sector has a real opportunity to meet the moment by stepping forward with bold action and leadership in a national time of crisis,” the guide shares. “Funders and nonprofits may not be able to control the future, but it’s critical that we all keep working to do what we can to influence its trajectory.”

Want more?

Read An Event or an Era?: Resources for Social Sector Decision-Making in the Context of COVID-19.

Learn more about The Monitor Institute by Deloitte.

Connect with CMF’s COVID-19 Resource Central.





Critical Census Outreach Continues in MI

As we look ahead to August and the next stage of Census outreach, Michigan remains third nationwide in 2020 Census participation. The latest data shows that Michigan has a participation rate of 68.4%, surpassing our 2010 response rate of 67.7%.

However, some Michigan counties are behind the state and national average.

At the county level, 10 Michigan counties have a response rate of 75% or above, while 24 of Michigan’s 83 counties have response rates below 50%. Livingston, Macomb, Midland, Ottawa and Lapeer counties have the highest rates of completion; Alcona, Mackinac, Oscoda, Keweenaw and Lake counties round out the bottom five.

A complete count is critical for our state, as Michigan stands to lose $1,800 for every person who isn’t counted, not just once, but every year for the next decade.

To promote the census, the U.S. Census Bureau released a Response Rate Challenge Toolkit to guide communities to encourage residents to surpass 2010 response rates. Funders can use this guide to promote the census within the communities they serve. Some strategies for increasing completion rates include involving small businesses, leveraging partnerships with local organizations and creating competitions between communities.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, community leaders shifted strategies to focus on ways to reach Michigan residents virtually to encourage they fill out their census forms. Some solutions to remind residents about the importance of the census have included phone banks, handing out flyers at food distribution locations, sidewalk chalk art and more.

The Census Bureau will begin dispatching census takers to nonresponsive households in Michigan starting August 11 and continuing through October 31.

The Michigan Nonprofits Complete Count Campaign (NPCCC) led by the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) in partnership with CMF continues to work on targeted outreach. As CMF has reported, many CMF member community foundations are serving as regional census hubs in this work and have deployed mini-grants to grassroots organizations doing on-the-ground outreach efforts.

MNA has provided an update on NPCCC activities happening around the state as organizations have developed creative solutions to allow for census completion while maintaining social distancing and providing residents with much-needed services.

Neighborhood Engagement Hub in Flint included census materials with water deliveries to residents and hosted a virtual event with music, prizes and ads promoting the census.

Centro Multicultural La Familia, Inc. in Pontiac provided free vehicle headlight and taillight replacement for families and helped families complete the census as the repairs were completed.

In Benton Harbor, Paris’ Purse held a drive-through food bank where volunteers provided tablets to families to complete the census while they waited in line.

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) is one of nearly a dozen CMF community foundation members serving or partnering as a census hub. CFSEM recently shared with CMF that it has provided grants to over 40 organizations working in historically undercounted communities in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Grants and support were provided in partnership with the Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, MNA, CMF and the Ballmer Group.

The 2020 Census can be completed online, by phone or by mail.

Want more?

See census completion rates at the national, state, county and city levels.

Download the Census Response Rate Challenge Toolkit.

Learn more about the NPCCC.

Learn how to spread the word about the census and encourage others to respond via social media.






Community Sharing: Communicating Your COVID-19 Efforts and Impact to Boards and Beyond

We invited Kathleen Owsley, president, Bosch Community Fund (BCF) and CMF Trustee to talk with us about the new way BCF is using infographic-style dashboards to communicate their COVID-19 response efforts, and impact, to their executive management team, board of trustees and Bosch associates. Check out our Q&A for fresh insights as you consider your own evaluation efforts and opportunities to enhance your reporting tools.

What are the key data points you report on through the dashboard, and why did you choose those areas of focus?

Owsley: There are five data points featured: (1) number of grants that have “pivoted” due to COVID-19, (2) indirect and (3) direct dollars invested in COVID-19 relief efforts, (4) themes and (5) testimonials. We knew we wanted to keep it concise and “bite size” for our busy executives so picked the points that are most meaningful, like total dollars invested, but also shared that we are making two waves of investments—the quicker, short-term relief plus the more strategic, targeted relief in key communities that are really feeling the negative impact of the pandemic. As a data driven company, the quantitative information is essential, but it’s always so positively received when we add in the personal testimonials to see the people behind the investments and how it makes a difference to communities to have Bosch’s support.

What are you hoping this new dashboard helps to achieve?

Owsley: We are using this dashboard for internal communications to our executive management team, our BCF board of trustees and Bosch associates. It’s both data driven in terms of grants, dollars and strategy but also has a human interest element that is important for our colleagues to hear. We want to be able to share with them the human side of the data—that we are talking with our grantees who, predominantly, are engaging with students and in many cases, students coming from underserved communities. It’s important we share that we are responding to and pivoting where need be. In many instances, that has been in replacing programming with food assistance or digital divide assistance and then both short-term relief and longer-term relief.

Can you tell us more about focusing on human interest in your dashboard?

Owsley: We have had BCF dashboards that we use to round up our year and report out on our work internally. We published one that was pure data and one that was pure “human interest.” It’s interesting how some people gravitate toward one versus the other. For Bosch, we are very data driven and key performance data driven so our board favors that approach with our typical year-end wrap up. But with the COVID-19 dashboard, I think we all needed to get behind the data to make that human connection in this time when it’s so hard to do because we are all isolated, but also to see the people that really have been impacted by the investments – particularly the feedback we’ve received from those grant recipients that had to change their plans. To know the grants were still there for emergency assistance—people have been so relieved and grateful. We need to let our leadership hear that our flexibility has been appreciated almost as much as the initial grant itself. We have always taken the angle that we are more than transactional in our work and this really has been a time of listening and responding, and we are proud that Bosch has supported us.

What tool is used to build the dashboard and how it is populated?

Owsley: The COVID-19 dashboard is simply a PowerPoint template managed by our communications firm, and we feed them data updates. It’s distributed as a PDF. It’s purely informational for our executives that may have external questions asked about our relief work, but also as an easy to digest update for any associate. We are very aware reports are too time consuming; this is a format that has worked well for us in the past with our standard dashboard.

What do you see as the future of your evaluation and data sharing work related to COVID-19?

Owsley: It’s definitely helped us to appreciate that (a) our associates want to hear about this relief work, (b) this format is manageable to create and distribute and (c) it’s a format that is manageable for our associates to consume.

What advice would you give to a foundation staff member struggling with what to report regarding their COVID-19 response, or how to report it?

Owsley: First, behind the dashboard is a strategic playbook that we developed in concert with the fund, our corporate social responsibility and crisis management teams that provides guidelines, strategies and parameters for community disaster response. The playbook ensures we can act fast, decisively and with continuity each time we are faced with a crisis in one of our communities.

Second, we want to strike a balance reporting the points that are meaningful without getting too into the weeds with details. Of course, the details are available as it relates to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and evaluation, but we wanted something that will resonate with our associates and hit the main themes. I think each foundation knows there is a threshold between too much information and not enough. Although our team and our board get into the details, we appreciate that not everyone has the time or inclination to dive into details but has a keen interest in knowing the main points.

Want more?

If you'd like to view the fund's dashboard, please connect with CMF. 

To foster continued learning, connections and shared understanding about Michigan philanthropy’s response, relief, recovery and reform efforts connected to COVID-19, we encourage you to share your organization’s COVID-19 response with us via this online form. All information submitted by our members will be populated in COVID-19 Resource Central for you to quickly access the latest approaches, strategies and collaborations underway around the state. 







The Besser Foundation Supports Medical Center Project in Alpena

Content excerpted and adapted from The Alpena News article. Read the full article here.

The Besser Foundation has committed $300,000 to the MidMichigan Health Foundation to provide support for a new patient tower project in Alpena.

The new patient care facility will be the largest project the medical center has ever completed and will include 60 private patient rooms, 8 intensive care unit beds, 8 labor and delivery rooms, 44 medical beds, 18 recovery rooms and 5 operating rooms. 

The Besser Foundation has a history of supporting patient care and advanced technology and the foundation says this gift represents their ongoing commitment to Alpena. It reinforces the importance of the medical center and ensures quality health care is available to the community.

“For many of our major projects, Besser Foundation has always come alongside the Medical Center as one of the first and most significant gifts,” Ann Diamond, development director for MidMichigan Health Foundation, said.

The Besser Foundation gave a series of grants to community organizations as a way to honor its 75th anniversary. Organizations selected to receive these funds were assessed based on community impact and types of needs met.

“MidMichigan Health is an outstanding organization and Besser Foundation is proud to support their investment in Alpena with this significant project,” Gary Dawley, secretary and treasurer for Besser Foundation said. “We have offered this contribution as a matching gift and we hope it will encourage others to contribute to this monumental project.”

Construction on the 99,000 square-foot project started earlier this month and is slated to be completed in spring 2022.


*The message "In Appreciation of America’s Conscience Bearers" that was published in our July 20th edition has been updated with a correction to reflect that Harriet Tubman quoted John 14:3 from the Bible.

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