Urgent Call for Philanthropic Response to India’s COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 health checks in India. (Photo credit: Gwydion M. Williams; CC BY 2.0 via Flickr)

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been on edge over a possible catastrophic surge in coronavirus cases in one of the most populous nations in the world.

As Matthew noted in our What We’re Watching: Weekly Disaster Update:

India is experiencing a second wave of cases that is much more severe than the worst of the first wave, with new global records being set daily for most new infections. On April 25, India reported more than 354,000 new cases, marking the fourth consecutive day of record numbers of new cases.

India is currently home to the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreak. It has reported a total of approximately 18 million cases since the beginning of the pandemic. As the second wave continues to unfold, we are learning that experts believe the actual figure is 30 times higher – that’s almost half a billion cases. A staggering figure for sure.

Bi- and multilateral organizations are delivering PPE, vaccines and other needed life-saving supplies as fast as possible. Other efforts to stem the surge are in full effect as well. The Navajo Nation is sending surplus PPEs to India, and Google recently announced a significant gift to UNICEF and GiveIndia to fight this wave.

At a time like this, where statistics are changing as fast as I can type (literally), I challenge myself and invite other donors and grantmakers to pause and consider how we can best support on-the-ground efforts to control the surge, save lives and begin the long road to recovery.

  • Connect with your existing grantees that have a presence in India – Ask them if they need additional funding.
  • Maximize unrestricted funding – An ongoing and developing crisis like what we are currently seeing in India and other countries is an excellent time to be flexible in funding that allows them to meet the greatest need.
  • Follow the lead of local leadersOrganizations on the ground need the agency to determine their own programming needs and pace. At a time like this, adhering to target outputs is unwise and counter-productive.
  • Take the long view – India is currently closing down businesses to divert oxygen to medical usage. This means that the country will assuredly suffer an economic crisis simultaneous to the pandemic’s toll. The financial and physical health of the world’s second-most populous nation is imperiled. In addition to being called upon for support in the heat of this surge, philanthropic support will also be vital as needs shift.

The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging philanthropy to do more, give more and dig deeper into the well of generosity. As much as I know that philanthropic entities – corporations, institutional foundations and community foundations have donated money, services and in-kind contributions, we cannot let up the pace of our giving.

Responding and recovering from the coronavirus pandemic will take our collective human, financial and technical resources. We cannot let up on our generosity at a time when there is such intense suffering in India.

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