March 12, 2020

Supporting Our Community During the Coronavirus Outbreak

By Bob Sorge

Bob Sorge

The coronavirus (and COVID-19, the disease it causes) and the impact it may have on our healthcare system and vulnerable populations is dominating the news and social media. While much of this information remains speculation, few can deny that this epidemic will have, and is already having, a large impact.

I am writing to tell you about Madison Community Foundation’s (MCF’s) preparation for the possible impact of coronavirus on our operations and community. In particular, the threat of coronavirus has raised questions about MCF’s business continuation and annual Madison Gives dinner, and the impact on the nonprofit field – particularly as it relates to an increased need for services.

MCF Business Continuity Plan

Should the need arise for MCF to close its office, staff will have remote access to MCF servers and will also be available to check voicemail. We have been working with our IT provider to ensure all staff can access the servers at the same time – and that their capacity will accommodate not only our needs, but increased demand from all their clients.

On Tuesday we also had a remote session with Commonfund, our investment management firm (which manages 95% of MCF’s portfolio). They have established a comprehensive business continuation plan that will allow them to operate through the health crisis and respond to changes in the national and international markets.

MCF's Madison Gives Dinner on May 14

MCF continues to plan for its annual Madison Gives dinner on May 14 at Monona Terrace. As I write this our invitation may be reaching your mailbox. We certainly understand you may feel some hesitancy about responding to the invitation in a time of uncertainty. Please register and rest assured that should we have to cancel the event, we will offer you a full refund.

We will continue to monitor the situation carefully and are working closely with Monona Terrace and the City of Madison to determine the best course of action. The health and wellness of our stakeholders and their families is of the utmost importance to us. The event is more than two months away and we should have a much clearer picture of the impact of the virus by mid-April.

The Impact on Nonprofits

The impact on nonprofits will vary on several levels, but primarily in two forms: the effect on their revenues, expenses and operations from closing physical facilities and/or canceling events; and the increased demand for services.

MCF always encourages nonprofits to prioritize the development of reserves in order to weather challenging situations such as the one we currently face. In addition, we urge all nonprofits to take the threat of coronavirus seriously and prepare operational contingency plans now.

Donors can support nonprofits in meaningful ways through contributions – and of course advising distributions from your donor advised funds at MCF. We encourage donors to connect with nonprofits that are important to them and find out what help the organizations might need to weather the crisis.

Nonprofits providing health services and support for those who may lose work because of the economic downturn and therefore need food, housing and other services will face significan demand.

The Greater Madison Nonprofit Directory lists every nonprofit in a five-county area. You can search by name, purpose, budget size and a variety of other criteria. Please visit the directory to learn more about the organizations you might wish to support.

And finally, MCF will be using its own field-of-interest funds that are designated to support the elderly, neighborhoods, basic needs and homelessness, to alleviate suffering.

Protecting the Health of Our Community Together

We all hope for a speedy end to this crisis. However, we can ease the anxiety and tension in the meantime by remembering that every person and organization is facing unforeseen challenges each day. We are preparing to make necessary changes because to proceed with business-as-usual could jeopardize the health and safety of our families, friends, colleagues and neighbors. Thank you for your patience and understanding.