How We Are Responding

The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has impacted the health and wellbeing of millions of individuals and our communities. We know that many of the organizations and people we partner with will be faced with additional hardship after this crisis. The true impact on the world and our sector is still looming. As a funder to hundreds of nonprofits we are also aware of the critical needs and urgency that is also required in this moment.

In these challenging times we have witnessed the passion and strength of individuals and community leaders. Many of our grantee partners began organizing resources and responding to the needs in our community long before additional funding was available. We have been inspired that relationships with other philanthropic organizations have been evolving, proving how coordinated planning and funding could become an effective practice in the future. We are grateful to everyone who is showing up at this moment, especially those at the front lines working with vulnerable populations ensuring humans stay healthy and have access to basic needs–often putting their own health at risk.

The past month the Satterberg Foundation has been working together as board and staff on the many ways we are able to be responsive in this moment with additional resources as well as provide opportunities for our nonprofit partners to be heard. Our staff have also been participating and aligning our values with national and local COVID-19 response efforts to ensure we are staying informed and that efforts include community driven solutions. 

As a foundation devoted to the tradition of trust-based philanthropy, rooted in relationship cultivation, we are currently committed to over 200 nonprofit organizations in Washington, California, and Arizona. In our Core Support grant strategy, we have committed $100 million dollars over 8 years, with grant payments through 2024 to 183 organizations in Washington and California. These grants are all unrestricted, giving our partners the flexibility they need to operate and respond to the evolving needs of their communities. Our Board of Directors also made a commitment decades ago to go above and beyond the 5% payout rule, that requires us to distribute 5 percent of the value of our net investments annually. We have been committed to a minimum payout of 10% of our assets annually with the understanding that this is a floor, not a ceiling. In this moment, first we need to prioritize the needs of our current grantees today and tomorrow. We must ensure that as the stewards of the Foundation’s resources, we manage the assets to follow through with all of our grant pledges and commitments in the years to come.

 So what is the Satterberg Foundation doing during this crisis?

Our first response was to reach out to our grantees and ask them how this crisis was impacting their organization and the communities they are accountable to and serve. While we acknowledge that we could never fill every gap of every grantee partner, we can help, and the organizations can use Satterberg’s support to further leverage our partnership for additional grants. We are also working directly with our grantees to determine timing on future grant payments as well as work with them to support any emergency needs. Certain needs/circumstances that we are hearing are, but not limited to:

  • Canceled fundraising events
  • Weathering funding and revenue shortfalls and loss of earned income sources 
  • Access to food
  • Lack of volunteers to support programs
  • Nonprofits with staff that are sick, nonprofits need to close and compensate staff
  • Transitioning to remote work: Need funds to move programs to virtual processes, like requesting support with rent or energy bills online as opposed to in person; need to create infrastructure for video-conferencing, purchase laptops and virtual meeting subscriptions
  • As schools shut down, families in gig economy (Uber/Lyft etc.), artists, musicians, are heavily impacted, thus lack of income and vulnerable communities are unable to pay rent
  • Many nonprofits operate with a fee-for-service model from government and/or school district contracts and are not being paid at this time
  • Need immediate support with translation of public health documents for ELL communities
  • Supporting staff with childcare needs
  • Addressing racism and bias in communities and services with increased quarantine restrictions

We also made a contribution to the COVID-19 Response Fund that is rapidly deploying resources to community-based organizations that are supporting local workers and families most affected by the coronavirus crisis in the Puget Sound region, the location of our home office. We will continue to identify opportunities and rapid response funds in Washington, California, and Arizona.

We are using our platform for advocacy efforts including joining others in our sector by signing a pledge of action for how we will continue to show up and be accountable as funders in this moment.  We also know that philanthropy can play a critical role in advocacy to secure resources for nonprofits and communities. So we have supported efforts to ensure that the economic stimulus bill should include $60 billion in emergency funding, a short-term universal charitable deduction, and participation in the emergency Small Business Loan program. As this crisis continues to unfold we will also lend our voice in ‘calls to action’ generated from our grantee partners, including efforts to address racism and bias in communities.

Our staff started documenting the many resources and opportunities that are being shared with us and we created a spreadsheet that we will continue to be updated as a community resource (go HERE to view and feel free to add resources and share with your networks).

As an organization we are committed to doing our part by working from home and moving all of our meetings to phone calls or video conferencing. We postponed all work-related travel and will continue to follow the recommendations and timelines per the public health authorities. In the meantime and weeks to come, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of us with resources, feedback or ideas on how Satterberg can better support the greater movement. We will continue to work hard as an organization to determine what more we can do in this crisis and into the recovery period.

On behalf of the Board and Staff of the Satterberg Foundation, we see you and are here with you in this moment.

 In Solidarity,

Sarah Walczyk

Executive Director