Questions and Answers about the COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley

What is the COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley?
The Response Fund, hosted by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, was created to provide immediate support across the Pioneer Valley to those most vulnerable to the economic and health-related issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Through grantmaking to nonprofit organizations serving the Valley, the Fund will help with emergency assistance, health services, and additional critical needs such as housing and food. The Fund was made possible through the generosity of many partners of foundations and businesses, led by MassMutual’s $1 million gift and supported by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund. Many wonderful individuals have donated, too, and continue to give to support their neighbors in Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties.

I’m an individual who’s been affected by COVID-19. Can the Response Fund help me?
Our hearts go out to you and all the individuals and families affected by the coronavirus. The Response Fund grants are quickly going to community-based organizations that directly support people across the Pioneer Valley. Initially, we are prioritizing urgent, basic human needs such as food, shelter and health care.  While the Fund is not able to provide grants to individuals, we are funding community-based organizations with experience and history of providing people and families with services and support. Grants awarded from the fund are posted here. Check the list of the organizations that may be able to assist you. If you need resources now, please connect online to Mass-211 or dial 2-1-1 on any phone. And visit our homepage for a list of additional community resources.

For Nonprofits:

My organization is interested in a grant from the Response Fund. How do we apply?
An online short-form application is available here.

What types of services and programs are being supported by the Response Fund?
We anticipate multiple phases of funding to address community needs now and to address the longer-term impacts of the coronavirus outbreak and recovery. In this current phase, the fund is making one-time operating grants to support frontline organizations with deep roots within priority populations. These priority populations include:

  • Vulnerable seniors
  • People without stable housing
  • Families and individuals who are food insecure
  • Residents who have limited English proficiency
  • Individuals with health vulnerabilities, including those with compromised immune systems, mental health disorders and/or who are struggling with addiction

Grantees include those that are:

  • Responding to increased demand for basic needs and health support
  • Providing outreach to vulnerable populations
  • Addressing fear and confusion about the outbreak among the region’s most vulnerable residents
  • Addressing immediate needs of economically vulnerable populations caused by closures and cancellations related to COVID-19

What types of organizations can be funded?
Based upon the charitable structure of the COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley, our grants are limited to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, groups fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, or other charitable organizations able to receive a tax-deductible contribution, such as schools, faith-based organizations, and other public entities. We are not able to fund individuals or businesses directly, labor unions, or other 501(c)4, 501(c)5, and 501(c)6 organizations.

Is there a geographic area of focus for the Response Fund?
The Fund prioritizes community-based organizations located in and serving the Pioneer Valley region, which includes Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties. We are doing this with a recognition that many Valley nonprofits serve workers and residents in our neighboring counties. We also know that there are many organizations that are located outside of the region. However, immediate priority will be nonprofits that both are located in and serve the Pioneer Valley.

How might the Response Fund grant priorities shift over time?
The Fund priorities will likely evolve. The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting agencies in many ways. We recognize these challenges, and as the crisis and long-term impacts continue to unfold, we assess and evolve our funding strategies. Please return to our website periodically to see when and how our grantmaking priorities expand.

My organization isn’t serving the immediate urgent needs of the current priority populations, but we are being impacted by the crisis. How can I share my nonprofit organization’s needs with the Community Foundation and the wider community?
We know many local nonprofits are hurting and we want to better understand how your organization and community are being affected. We’ll soon be distributing a survey which we hope all nonprofits will respond to. That information will be added to our catalogue which is compiled here and shared widely so we may shine a light and spur action and solutions.

In addition, we’ve relaunched ValleyGives as a means for donors to connect directly with nonprofits in our community. We encourage all nonprofits to use this as a tool to share your story and solicit donations from the general public. Unlike the previous ValleyGives Day, the new ValleyGives will be a platform that is available throughout 2020. Donors can visit and give at any time. Similarly, nonprofits can register to participate at any time.

For Donors:

How can I donate to the Response Fund?
You can give online at communityfoundation.org/covid19 or mail a check to the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, COVID-19 Fund, 333 Bridge Street, Springfield, MA 01103.

Can I restrict my donation to a prioritized grantee?
To ensure we make grants from the Fund as efficiently as possible and respond to needs of communities most impacted, we are not considering restricted gifts at this time. The COVID-19 Response Fund for the Pioneer Valley was created in hopes of providing a way to coordinate as many resources as possible.

Should I give to this Fund instead of making gifts to other organizations?
This Fund was not created to be the only vehicle resourcing critical community activities during this crisis. Rather, it is working to help get more targeted resources into the community where it’s needed most. Please continue to give to organizations you regularly support and to those that need your help at this crucial time. Now is the time to double down for our community as we gain greater awareness of the depth and scale of the long-term ramifications of the outbreak. We have relaunched ValleyGives to help you learn about and give to nonprofits in our community that are responding to or affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

When will you share who you Fund?
View the list of grantees on our website. We will continuously update this page as new grants are awarded from the COVID-19 Response Fund.

Is there a fee to contribute to the Response Fund?
No, there’s no fee to contribute—even for gifts by credit card—because the Community Foundation is covering those costs. In addition, the Community Foundation is absorbing the costs of staff time and operating expenses related to Response Fund management, grant distribution, and fundraising. One hundred percent of gifts will go to nonprofits in the Pioneer Valley.

updated 5/22/20