If you or your clients are considering giving away assets or money during the COVID-19 crisis, please note that Tuesday, May 5, is Giving Tuesday Now, a day for charitable giving across the globe focused on responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fidelity Charitable has already challenged participants in its donor-advised fund to double their $100 million in grants in response to the pandemic in honor of the new Giving Tuesday date, an addition to the usual Giving Tuesday that follows Thanksgiving each year. The annual effort raised nearly $2 billion globally in 2019, according to GivingTuesday.org.

(Related: Fidelity Charitable Challenges Its Donors to Give More)

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which has multiple DAFs, is also reportedly asking donors to give hundreds of millions of dollars in grants as soon as possible to address the economic impact of the pandemic.

Other DAFs, like ImpactAssets, which specializes in impact investing, are taking another approach. ImpactAssets has created a new fund whose sole purpose is to respond to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has just launched the ImpactAssets COVID Response Fund, which combines rapid-response charitable giving and flexible impact investing.

The fund will focus on the immediate unmet needs of small businesses and individuals as well as companies fighting on the front lines of the pandemic, across three groups of beneficiaries:

  • Small businesses and individuals in communities hardest hit by the economic downturn;
  • Companies and projects that advance the immediate fight against the pandemic, including treatments and vaccinations, personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturing and delivery of health services;
  • Companies that have materially advanced progress on climate change and social equity and whose survival is integral to preserving and continuing that progress.

“Now more than ever, the world requires the robust and scalable power of impact investing and philanthropy to support those in need and create a more resilient and equitable future,” said Margret Trilli, president and CEO of ImpactAssets. “The fund is set up for speed, able to deploy funds as soon as they come in.”

Multiple investments on the ImpactAssets platform could potentially benefit from the new fund’s contributions, including the Hawthorne Effect, which assists big pharmaceutical companies in clinical trials and is currently involved in screening and testing for COVID-19 in California, including drive-through testing.

“This is exactly the kind of response to the COVID-19 pandemic that has the potential to deliver solutions to the people, communities and businesses that are struggling most,” said Adam Connaker, principal, Innovative Finance, The Rockefeller Foundation, which consulted with ImpactAssets on the development of the new fund.

Lawson Bader, president and CEO of DonorsTrust, a DAF sponsor, says he’s seeing a 40% increase in the number of grants that are being distributed in the last quarter, compared with last year, though the dollar amounts are little changed.  

Bader sees more donations to elder care, food banks, online education and religious institutions, many on a local level, and fewer donations to cultural institutions such as galleries, museums and theaters.

One example of the increase in donations to local nonprofits is the River Fund, a Queens, New York charity that fights hunger, homelessness and poverty in dozens of New York city neighborhoods. 

Michael Tiedemann, CEO of Tiedemann Advisors, is chairman of the River Fund’s board and,  along with board members, has helped raise over $800,000 to help keep the fund 100% operational and distribute more than 1.1 million pounds of food as part of its emergency food pantry program.

At the beginning of this COVID-19 crisis, the fund’s client base was already more than 15,000 families, and the number has risen dramatically since then. The fund has set a goal to raise $250,000.