The Download

The Download

March 9, 2020

Monday, March 9, 2020

Coronavirus Highlights Need for Disaster Preparedness

There are no confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) being reported in Michigan at this time but there are contingency plans in place from the governor’s office and state agencies to help keep communities safe and mitigate any potential impact on state operations, education, health care and the workforce.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has launched four different COVID task forces “to combat the spread of coronavirus and assess the impact it may have on Michiganders’ day-to-day lives.”

As Michigan and other states put plans in motion to prepare for potential cases of the virus, CMF has been monitoring the situation and staying connected with members and our national partners to learn what philanthropy can do to prepare, both internally and in supporting communities. We've also gathered policies and resources that funders can implement in the case of a local COVID-19 outbreak, and to have available in the future should a natural or manmade disaster impacts a foundation’s service area. 

Last week our team joined the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s (CDP) webinar on COVID-19 which highlighted how philanthropy can prepare and respond. Experts from the CDC Foundation, National Center for Disaster Preparedness and Give2Asia joined the call to provide various perspectives on the domestic and global needs emerging from the spread of COVID-19.

Jeff Schlegelmilch, deputy director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness shared on the webinar that local funders, particularly community foundations, can serve a vital role in addressing preparedness, response and mitigation.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) shares, "Local knowledge is important. As this disease spreads, understanding cultures and community needs will be critical. Allow local leaders and organizations on the ground to develop the programming as needs arise."

The CDP further notes, "There are going to be multiple phases and needs in this crisis – the medical response situation, support for research and assisting vulnerable people who have been impacted. Match your giving to one of these areas or decide how you will transition funds as needs change."

On the webinar, the CDP advised that foundations also take the time now to develop internal emergency procedures.

Disaster preparedness plans many include:

  • Emergency Grantmaking Funds/Policies: Foundations can prepare for any potential emergency or disaster situation impacting their local region or service area by creating (or updating) an emergency grantmaking policy.  

  • Remote Worker Policy: As part of the 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. 

  • Board Procedures: In an effort to be prepared for a situation that could impact board meetings or organizational decision making, foundations have an opportunity to examine their existing board procedures, which should be reviewed periodically. (Boards should review their bylaws, and other board documents as needed, before making decisions or holding votes outside of regularly scheduled, normally formatted meetings of the full board.) While virtual meetings may be an option for foundations, please use caution before utilizing phone or online meetings for board meetings and voting. If this is not a standard practice of the foundation, foundations are advised to contact their legal counsel for clarification regarding board procedures.

  • Event Continency Plans: Depending on recommendations for local areas, foundations may need to develop contingency plans for in-person meetings and events, especially for large gatherings. For CMF, the health and safety of our members and staff attending Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) is paramount. CMF and many other organizations participating in or hosting national conferences for the sector have been sharing procedures being implemented to assist with attendees’ safety. The United Philanthropy Forum, the lead organization planning FOTH, is working closely with event venues regarding preparations and precautions being taken given current concerns around the spread of COVID-19. Beyond the CDC's recommendations about handwashing, the Forum shares “We encourage you to use your own judgment regarding actions like shaking hands and exchanging business cards.”

  • Stay Connected: In preparing for any disaster situation, including the COVID-19 outbreak, foundations may want to ensure they have an internal communications plan in place to let staff and trustees know how they will be contacted in the event of urgent updates and alerts, and what responsibilities individual staff may have to contact colleagues, vendors, event partners and others. It is also important for the foundation to stay connected with local officials. Foundations may actively work with localized efforts and can make preparations that further larger regional plans for disaster situations.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy continues to share resources and information for the sector on COVID-19.

This Thursday, March 12, you can also join a webinar hosted by Philanthropy California and the United Philanthropy Forum: How Philanthropy Can Support and Enhance the Government Response to COVID-19.

Want more?

Visit the CMF Knowledge Center for a collection of disaster philanthropy curated resources.

CMF members with questions about these resources and how to prepare for emergencies can reach CMF staff at any time or reach out via our Ask CMF service.  

Check out the Council on Foundations’ Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Plan.

For YAC programs and other youth-oriented needs check out Learning to Give’s Disaster Preparation and Response Toolkit.



CMF Members Head to Capitol Hill

This week more than 30 CMF members from all sizes and types of foundations are traveling to Washington, D.C. to engage in meetings with our Michigan lawmakers to build relationships, share the work that they do and highlight issues of importance to philanthropy.

It’s all part of Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), an annual event hosted by United Philanthropy Forum in partnership with CMF. FOTH brings together foundation leaders from across the country to establish quality relationships with lawmakers to advance advocacy that maximizes the efforts of philanthropy.

This year CMF members and staff have several items to discuss with lawmakers, including:

  • Thanking members of Congress for their support on 2019 year-end legislation that repealed the unrelated business income tax (UBIT) on parking and transportation benefits for nonprofits and simplified the private foundation excise tax to a flat rate of 1.39%.

  • Sharing the importance of supporting legislation to enhance charitable giving. New data from the U.S. Department of Treasury shows a decline of $3.4 billion in charitable giving based on the 2019 tax returns received to-date from charitable organizations. We will be sharing this data point with lawmakers as we highlight the importance of enacting an enhanced charitable giving incentive for all taxpayers, not just those who itemize, to help to restore giving and reverse these troubling trends.

  • Highlighting the need to supporting talent retention strategies to help communities who are experiencing a lack of skilled workers, without placing unnecessary burdens on the talent being recruited. Student debt continues to be a concern nationally and in Michigan. As CMF has reported, four years ago the Community Foundation of St. Clair County launched a reverse scholarship program to help recent graduates pay off their student loans if they agreed to move back home and work. To support such talent retention efforts in rural and urban communities, CMF continues to advocate for a legislative amendment to the tax code that would make such scholarship payments to reduce student debt non-taxable to the ultimate beneficiary – the student who has incurred such debt.

These are just a few of the topics CMF members will be sharing in meetings with legislators and their staff. CMF will be sharing updates from the Hill on our social media channels, which you can follow via the hashtags #CMFontheHill or #FOTH2020.

Next week we will give you an inside look at CMF members engaging in advocacy work as well as their key takeaways from their legislative visits.

Want more?

Check out a recording of our recent webinar, Advocacy: What You Can Do and Why it’s Important. The webinar highlights examples of how CMF members have used their voice in advocacy work. It also shares how you can effectively engage with policymakers and know where the line is drawn between advocacy and lobbying. 



Census 2020: 23 Days and Counting

We are just 23 days away from Census Day. Beginning April 1, everyone who lives in the U.S. and participates in the census will be counted at the place where they reside most of the year.

This week invitations to complete the census will arrive in mailboxes around the country. The outreach is the first in a series of planned mailers from the U.S. Census Bureau to U.S. households between now and the end of April.

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.

That’s why there’s a final push happening on the state level to encourage residents around Michigan to participate. This week, the state’s Complete Count Committee is hosting a series of town halls to encourage census participation and to answer residents’ questions.

Meanwhile, a multi-media campaign from the Nonprofits Complete Count Campaign (NPCCC) continues in hopes of educating the public about the importance of a complete count when it comes to critical programs such as nutrition assistance, education, medical care and infrastructure funding.

The targeted campaign is expected to run until the summer as households have until July to fill out the census.

“The census is such a great way to participate in our democracy,” Joan Gustafson, external affairs officer, Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) said. “We are working to ensure everyone is counted, especially those from traditionally underrepresented populations across our state. We want to make sure everyone completes the census to ensure a brighter future for all Michigan residents.”

In addition, the NPCCC supports, which provides further information on the census, including important dates and a preview of census questions. The site also allows for residents to share their census completion status as part of the larger media campaign.

As for direct outreach in communities, 260 nonprofit organizations have received mini grants to do on-the-ground outreach in their area to encourage participation from historically undercounted communities in Census 2020. These mini grants have been deployed by regional census hubs via the NPCCC, many of which are led by or in partnership with CMF member community foundations.

All CMF members can help to highlight the importance of the census by filling out the form and encouraging colleagues, friends and community members to participate.

Want more?

Learn more about the NPCCC and visit




The W.K. Kellogg Foundation Supports Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Outdoor Recreation Efforts

Content excerpted and adapted from a MiBiz article. Read the full article.

Funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) is aimed at increasing the number of women and people of color utilizing outdoor recreation spaces in Grand Rapids.

WKKF has provided funding to the city of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Whitewater (GRW)—an organization dedicated to restoring rapids on the Grand River—to promote diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in their growing conservation and restoration efforts. With this funding, GRW has hired Ciarra Adkins as an equity analyst, overseeing DEI efforts for the project and to get more women and people of color to participate in restoration efforts and future rapids recreation.

“There is an opportunity for economic prosperity within the environmental world that typically people of color are not a part of,” Adkins said in an interview with MiBiz. “We’re trying to be intentional as the city, and with a lot of our partners, to make sure economic opportunities that arise from our river improvements make space for women and people of color to be able to participate.”

According to the Outdoor Foundation, people of color continue to show low participation in outdoor recreation activities despite some small increases. However, the number of women participants has increased significantly in recent years, making up 45% of participants in 2019.

WKKF and GRW also hope to increase economic opportunities for women and people of color with their efforts. With business developments being planned for the restoration, Adkins will ensure that businesses owned by women and people of color will have the chance to open and thrive as visitor numbers are expected to increase.

CMF reported last year that WKKF had partnered with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF) to amplify locally driven philanthropy by and for communities of color. This most-recent grant is a continuation of the work to create a more equitable future for all Grand Rapids residents.

Want more?

Read MiBiz’s story on the grant

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