COVID-19 Coronavirus: What Foundations Need to Know

UPDATE (March 16, 2020): New guidance from the CDC released March 15 recommends postponing all gatherings of 50 people or more for at least two months.

The SECF staff is working remotely but remains available to support our members. You can reach our team via e-mail or by calling (404) 524-0911. Read more about our response here.

UPDATE (March 12, 2020): We have added new information from the CDC on steps foundations can take to slow the spread of the virus. See the links below in the How Foundations Can Prepare section.

UPDATE (March 8, 2020): New guidance from the CDC recommends that anyone in a higher-risk group for becoming very sick due to COVID-19 should "stay home as much as possible." Those at higher risk include "older adults and people who have severe, chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease."

More than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 coronavirus have been reported in the United States since January 21 – this includes cases reported in 10 of 11 states in the SECF footprint.

The spread of the virus has sparked discussion of not only how philanthropy can best respond, but also of how foundations can best operate in an environment where fears of the disease are running high and where separating fact from rumor and misinformation can be difficult.

SECF has put together a collection of resources to help members deal with the impact of this growing pandemic. In addition, our staff is available to provide further assistance if needed – please contact us at (404) 524-0911 if you need our support.

Philanthropic Response

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) is tracking the COVID-19 outbreak on its website – CDP's COVID-19 profile page is being regularly updated with the latest information on the disease’s spread, as well as information on how foundations can respond, including by supporting CDP’s Global Recovery Fund.

You can also view a recording and slide deck from last week's CDP webinar, COVID-19 Coronavirus: How Philanthropy Can Respond.

FSG has also published a helpful article: COVID-19 – Seven Things Philanthropy Can Do.

How Foundations Can Prepare

Like any organization, foundations should take action following established best practices to protect their staff and those they interact with on a regular basis, at both offices and events. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued several pieces of guidance for employers to help them manage this situation:

Guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19 are similar to other airborne infectious diseases, including encouraging employees to stay home if they’re not feeling well, frequent hand-washing and avoiding exposure to those showing symptoms. The World Health Organization has more information on actions you can take to keep yourself and others healthy.

If you are concerned about potential impact on any upcoming events, EventMB has compiled information on canceling events and liability risks.

Other Resources

Your SECF colleagues may have advice to share about steps they are taking in response to the outbreak – our Member Listservs (login required) provide an easy way to reach out and learn from each other.

Our staff is also available to provide support – call the SECF offices at (404) 524-0911 and we can help connect you with other resources and information.


Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Visiting SECF:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (ET)

Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116

Mission: SECF strengthens Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.