Arcus Applauds Major Foundations’ Commitment to Additional Grantmaking Amid Global Pandemic

June 30, 2020

A Statement by Arcus Founder Jon Stryker and CEO Annette Lanjouw

The global pandemic, social unrest, and an imperiled environment continue to threaten the wellbeing of people, nature, and economies everywhere. The COVID-19 pandemic alone has triggered the most severe global recession in nearly a century, with development in the world’s low-income and poorest countries likely to be set back for decades. Climate change, biodiversity loss, and habitat degradation not only impact the lives of all on the planet, but have a disproportionate impact on local, forest-dependent communities. The prospects for successfully battling these threats lie in great part in the efforts conceived and marshalled by nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations, many of which survive year-to-year, grant-to-grant.

There is no time like the present for philanthropy to act in sustaining these critical resources.

Maximizing grantmaking in the current moment while preserving endowments and ensuring the capacity to offer consistent and strategic support in the future is a significant challenge for our sector.

Most foundations make grants equal to around 5 percent of their endowments annually. A recent call from many philanthropic organizations proposed that foundations step up and spend a larger proportion of their endowments to meet the enormous need nonprofits and civil society are facing at this time. A group of some of the largest foundations in the United States have announced plans to collectively make available this year an additional $1.7 billion in grantmaking to support nonprofits challenged by the hardship of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group comprises the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Ford will take the unprecedented step of offering a labeled “social bond” in the U.S. taxable corporate bond market to support this initiative.

We at Arcus celebrate these courageous and innovative steps toward making available additional resources during this critical time. The needs are enormous at the moment, and the ability of foundations to find innovative measures to maximize their giving is so important. This will enable more resources to be made available to nonprofits and NGOs around the globe who are working to bring about social justice, protect our natural environmental, and ensure the health of people everywhere.

The Arcus Foundation makes grants equal to an annual average of 22 percent of its assets and has done so since its inception. It is our hope and intent to maintain that level of commitment, particularly in this challenging time. Meanwhile, we want to publicly applaud the leadership and innovation of our sister foundations and communicate broadly our hope that others in the sector will follow their excellent example.