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Global philanthropic response to coronavirus pandemic exceeds $6 billion

By Andrew Grabois
April 13, 2020

In the two weeks since Candid last analyzed the global funding patterns for COVID-19, the total has almost tripled again to $6.8 billion as of April 8, powered by an unprecedented individual commitment of $1 billion by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. It was only a week earlier that Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and the world’s richest man, announced his own unprecedented (at the time) individual donation of $100 million to Feeding America, and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation announced a $100 million donation addressing the economic consequences of COVID-19, including support for the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, which was launched in March by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dorsey will liquidate $1 billion of his equity in Square Inc., a payment processing company he co-founded, and transfer the funds to Start Small, LLC, a limited liability company he established to distribute the COVID-19 relief funds. Dorsey’s choice of a limited liability company (LLLC) as his philanthropic vehicle is an interesting one, following in the footsteps of a number of other Silicon Valley billionaires. Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer, Pierre Omidyar, and Laurene Powell Jobs have all chosen limited liability companies, with their flexibility and lack of mandated transparency, instead of private foundations to distribute their wealth. It should be noted, however, that Dorsey is making all his COVID-19 disbursements available to the public on a Google Docs spreadsheet. The first two disbursements were $100,000 to America’s Food Fund, a GoFundMe campaign to help feed people made food insecure by COVID-19, and $2.1 million to Mayor’s Fund LA, to help domestic violence victims.

After a whirlwind two weeks of historic individual and institutional commitments, Jack Dorsey and Google account for more than a quarter of all COVID-19 funding:

Funder   Amount
Jack Dorsey   $1,000,000,000
Google   $906,750,000
Cisco Systems   $218,000,000
Visa Foundation   $210,000,000
Tata Trusts   $199,097,425
Royal Holding Al Mada   $197,912,028
Wells Fargo Foundation   $181,250,000
Tencent Holdings   $173,040,000
Alibaba Group   $144,200,000
Facebook   $122,025,000
China Evergrande Group   $115,000,000
Bank of America   $111,500,000
Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A.   $110,093,500
Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A.   $110,093,500
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation   $110,000,000
Jeff Bezos   $100,000,000
Michael & Susan Dell Foundation   $100,000,000
Netflix   $100,000,000
Sony Corporation   $100,000,000
Stavros Niarchos Foundation   $100,000,000

The origin of COVID-19 funding by country has remained relatively stable. The United States and China (including the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions) account for 90 percent of all pledges and 79 percent of total dollar value, compared to 87 and 83 percent, respectively, a couple of weeks ago. Funding originating in Italy increased from 11 to 15 percent. Large commitments from funders in India, Morocco, South Africa, and Greece add these nations to the list of countries donating at least 1 percent of total dollar value of COVID-19 funding.

Country   Grants   Amount
United States   686   $4,383,843,856
China   96   $931,632,205
Italy   15   $285,484,729
India   2   $212,169,320
Morocco   3   $208,797,189
South Africa   3   $139,079,850
Japan   10   $105,912,200
Greece   2   $100,000,000
United Kingdom   9   $95,975,038
Spain   4   $66,090,650
Denmark   2   $57,377,250
Korea (ROK)   9   $46,627,565
Mexico   1   $42,000,000

Companies and their foundations account for 63 percent of global COVID-19 private funding, down a bit from 77 percent two weeks ago. These figures reflect the large individual commitments from Dorsey and Bezos and some significant commitments by several family and independent foundations. Companies and their foundations, individuals, family foundations, and independent foundations account for 94 percent of funding identified by Candid. Operating foundations, public charities, limited liability companies, and community foundations account for the other 6 percent.

Funders to COVID-19 relief as of 4/8/2020: corporate giving programs, $3.8B; individuals, $1.1B; company-sponsored foundations, $697M; fmaily foundations, $384M; independent foundations, $305M.as of

Recent commitments by Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and others has upended the traditional funding patterns of corporate giving. Internet companies now account for 45 percent of the $2.6 billion in corporate COVID-19 commitments, double the total for financial services companies, the usual trendsetters in corporate philanthropy. If you add the contributions of technology companies, which account for 9 percent of all COVID-19 funding, 54 percent of corporate commitments have so far come from 21st-century companies. Together, the three sectors account for 81 percent of all corporate funding.  Pharmaceuticals, retail, beverage, and insurance companies account for another 11 percent. The remaining 8 percent of corporate funding comes from companies spanning 31 industrial sectors.

Corporate donation to COVID-19 efforts by industry: Internet,: $1.2B; financial services, $721M; technology, $241M; pharmaceuticals, $95M; retail, $73M; beverages, $70M; insurance, $42M.

Some stray observations:

  • 79 percent of COVID-19 recipients are multiple or not named. By virtue of Jack Dorsey’s $1 billion commitment, Start Small LLC is now the top named recipient, followed by Feeding America.
  • Among individual U.S. donors, Oprah Winfrey’s $10 million contribution to America’s Food Fund (also the recipient of Jack Dorsey’s initial disbursement) is the largest after Dorsey and Bezos.
  • Looked at in terms of the aggregate dollar value of grants made, community foundations contributions do not compare—at least not yet—to those made by companies, corporate foundations, and family foundations. But is that the right way to look at it? What community foundations have done is mobilize hundreds of millions of dollars of COVID-19 relief and response funds all over the United States that address the economic catastrophe resulting from the response to the public health emergency. These funds are often managed and distributed by alliances of community foundations, nonprofits, and local governments—entities that are best able to get help to those that need it most. Candid is tracking these funds on its Funding for coronavirus (COVID-19) pop-up webpage.

Candid will continue to track the philanthropic response to COVID-19. We will not only highlight commitments from large U.S. foundations, companies, and notable individuals, but also attempt to capture the most complete picture of international funding and local fundraising campaigns as they contend with the immediate and long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Editorial note: Candid offers the following resources for responding to and coping with the pandemic:

Tags: Novel coronavirus (COVID-19); Foundations and grantmaking; Disaster philanthropy