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MacArthur Foundation, 4 other groups pledge $1.7 billion to support nonprofits battered by the coronavirus

The organizations say they’ll announce more specific plans in the coming weeks.

MacArthur Foundation President John Palfrey
MacArthur Foundation President John Palfrey
| MacArthur Foundation

Five philanthropic organizations, including the Chicago-based John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, say they plan to donate $1.7 billion over the next three years to help nonprofit organizations around the globe that have been crippled by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the United States alone, nonprofits employ about 10% of the private workforce, and in a recent survey, 73% of those organizations said they expect to see a 20% drop in revenue in the coming year, according to the MacArthur Foundation.

“At this moment of massive disruption, we see opportunity,” MacArthur Foundation President John Palfrey said in a statement. “The pandemic is wreaking tragedy across the world and, in particular, in African American communities. In the face of an extraordinary social and economic crisis, our city, country, and global communities require a transformation. Our response to the pandemic will focus on supporting the reinvention of systems that create a more just, equitable, and resilient world.”

The money is expected to fund efforts that would tackle topics such as racial equity, social justice and climate change.

“COVID-19 presents an existential threat to nonprofits, and we must respond in creative and innovative ways,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, in a statement. “The pandemic has brought into sharp relief the results of decades of growing inequality. The virus is only compounding that inequality, taking a disproportionate toll on the poor, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, and others who were already marginalized before the crisis hit.”

Walker added: “Our goal for the additional funds is to help shore up, strengthen, and deepen the resilience of key organizations that are advancing the fight against inequality and injustice at a time when the need is greatest.”

Besides the MacArthur and Ford foundations, donors include the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The organizations say they expect to share their specific plans for the money in the coming weeks.