Almost one year ago, in May of 2019 the Swift Foundation board made an internal commitment to double our annual payout from the mandated 5% to 10%. Now, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic we are purposefully striving to live up to this.

As of April 22nd, we have committed $1.2-million-dollars toward exceptional funding in response to the COVID-19 crisis, prioritizing current grantee partners as well as allied organizations. The board has already approved $610,000 in grants, moving forward round 1 of this funding. This is in addition to current and ongoing funding commitments and is almost half of our typical (tax-mandated) annual payout. The scope of funding ranges from $10k to $60k, with larger grants going to rapid response initiatives by Indigenous and grassroots led organizations, many of which are also existing partners.

While the current emergency funding is all one-time grants, we remain committed to the 10% payout over the long term. Even though our approach next year may pivot toward inviting new proposals and expanding the scope of our funding, we know that this crisis will have enduring impacts and we are resolved to do what we can to be reliable, flexible and supportive. We consider it our responsibility.

The deeper thinking beneath this commitment stems from years of striving for more coherency, accountability and integrity as a foundation. Practically this has meant practicing trust-based funding and prioritizing long term general support grants. Alongside grants, we invest our endowment towards alignment with our values. This has meant strict no-buy guidelines, seriously divesting, moving cash into CDFI’s and making low or 0% interest rate loans to partners. Crucial to all of this has been diversifying our board and staff so we are guided by a breadth of lived experience relevant to the work of our partners on the ground. To this end, we are committed to ever increasing our own self-awareness and doing our part to model a version of solidarity philanthropy.

Like any foundation, we continue to benefit in one way or another from the mechanisms of colonization, industrialization, corporatization of the world.  We may have begun to set another example but we still have a lot work to do.