Inside Look At How Philanthropy Tackles The Pandemic In Broward

A Food For Thought Virtual Experience

September 25, 2020

When quarantines, face masks and disappearing jobs quickly became our new normal, the Community Foundation of Broward was ready to help residents take on the coronavirus crisis.

But how does the power of endowment make it possible to fuel nimble solutions to a pandemic that seemed to change our community overnight?

Our virtual “Food for Thought” online gathering recently provided an inside look at the Community Foundation’s ongoing coronavirus response.

A Food for Thought is an exclusive opportunity we provide for our Fundholders and Legacy Society members to learn more about Broward’s big issues, and to see the bold impact of local philanthropy. To stay safe during the pandemic, we now hold our Food for Thought gatherings through online video conferences.

The most recent interactive, online Food for Thought experience showcased the ways that the Community Foundation and our Fundholders are helping Broward overcome the far-reaching effects of the pandemic. Participants learned how at the onset of the crisis, the Community Foundation:

  • Launched an extensive outreach effort – even as we shifted to remote work – making hundreds of calls to gather feedback from our Fundholders and to assess the needs of nonprofits on the front lines of the pandemic response.
  • Helped lead a first-of-its-kind collaboration of top South Florida philanthropic organizations, which came together to connect nonprofits to more than $1.4 million in federal coronavirus response aid.
  • Lifted restrictions on existing Community Foundation grantees so that nonprofits could redirect resources to tackle the most pressing needs of Broward residents.
“The Community Foundation of Broward never shut down. … We immediately sprang into action,” Sheri Brown, Vice President of Community Impact, told the dozens of Food for Thought attendees. “Fundholders really wanted to help and nonprofits really needed the help.”

Fundholders, Legacy Society members and many others participate in the Community Foundation of Broward's interactive "Food for Thought" online gathering about the local pandemic response.

Sheri explained how, thanks to our visionary philanthropists with charitable Funds at the Community Foundation, we have been able to provide more than $5 million in emergency pandemic response. That includes:

  • More than $3 million in immediate crisis response, through grant flexibility, emergency grants, collaborations and other crucial support. These critical resources help feed people in need, stabilize families facing homelessness, engage isolated seniors, provide online counseling to residents in crisis and much, much more.
  • It also includes an initial $2 million to fuel long-term solutions to the pandemic’s effects on Broward’s Issues That Matter – 10 challenges that affect us all and are vital to Broward’s future.

Breakout sessions during the Food for Thought enabled participants to learn more about how the pandemic makes Broward’s Issues That matter more daunting. The breakout groups discussed topics such housing, employment, food, seniors and more. And during the sessions, nonprofits on the front lines of these pressing needs – such as Harvest Drive, Inc. and the PACE Center for Girls – shared how they have pivoted to open food banks, provide housing assistance, offer online counseling and many other measures to tackle problems residents face during the pandemic.

Food for Thought participants gained insights into the struggles Broward’s innovative and dedicated nonprofits face to sustain their pandemic-response efforts, amid cancelled fundraisers and a drop-off in donations. For example, a recent survey of local nonprofits shows that:

  • About 90 percent of Broward nonprofits face coronavirus-related budget concerns.
  • Nearly half are concerned about being able to continue providing critical community services through the duration of the pandemic.
“We are so much more than just charities that help people. We are really a part of the economic fabric of our community,” said Sandra Veszi Einhorn, Executive Director of the Nonprofit Executive Alliance – a coalition of more than 90 nonprofit CEOs in Broward. “If nonprofits weren’t there to be solving many of our economic issues, we would really be at a loss.”

The Food for Thought also explored how cancelled performances, temporarily closed galleries and other pandemic disruptions have imperiled Broward’s thriving arts scene. During the first four months of the pandemic, local arts and cultural organizations lost nearly $22 million in revenue due to closings and cancellations, said Community Foundation Board Member Edward Hashek – who’s leading a Foundation task force to help arts organizations overcome this crisis. The task force is focused on ways “to be bold and aggressive to assure the sustainability of our arts organizations,” he said.

More resources to sustain the arts and help nonprofits propel Broward’s pandemic recovery can come through the power of endowment. Endowed charitable Funds at the Community Foundation create resources that grow over time, as they produce grants that create bold impact. With more endowed Funds, we can provide emergency food, career training, outreach to isolated seniors as well as support for the arts, our environment our schools and all of the issues that are key to a vibrant future.

This crisis requires all of us to do more for our community because, “there is no big federal grant that can come in and save us,” said new Community Foundation President/CEO Jennifer O’Flannery Anderson, Ph.D.

“It is about how our community is going to wrap our arms around each other,” she said. “We are going to get through this together.”

Community Foundation of Broward President/CEO Jennifer O'Flannery Anderson, Ph.D., leads the Food for Thought online gathering about philanthropy's role Broward's pandemic recovery

Click here to see a video with highlights from our virtual Food for Thought online gathering about how local philanthropy tackles the coronavirus crisis.

Learn More

To learn how you can help Broward during this crisis and beyond with an endowed charitable Fund at the Community Foundation, contact Vice President of Philanthropic Services Nancy Thies at or 954-761-9503.

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