Responding to Covid-19 and Other Public Health Crises

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Explore the role of philanthropy in responding to emergencies, specifically personal and group efforts to support communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.


PrintOne 50-Minute Session

The learners will know and be able to:

  • identify philanthropic actions in response to a crisis.
  • state why everyone's voice, representing diverse points of view, is valuable in a crisis. 

What are the long-term effects from Covid-19 (or another disaster) in your immediate community? What have you learned that you want to apply to the next public emergency? What have you (or our society) learned about equity and listening to all voices?


  1. Opening Discussion:

    When a crisis hits, such as a pandemic, fire, or mass shooting, name some actions that can and should be taken by businesses, the government, philanthropy organizations, and individuals. 

  2. Read this paper Philanthropy Responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic as an example of an emergency that affected people worldwide. What other crises have happened in the US and the world? See the History of US Philanthropy Timeline. Look for the role of philanthropy in supporting communities during crises. Look for the surprises that came up as the crisis unfolded.

  3. Discuss:

    • What is philanthropy able to do that the government cannot or will not do?
    • What are the challenges philanthropic organizations face during rapidly evolving crises?
    • What must philanthropy consider to be sure of equitable distribution of support and resources? 
    • What can individuals and groups do to work toward solutions that help everyone?
  4. Write an emergency plan with your own philanthropic response to a hypothetical crisis, such as a natural disaster or a public health emergency. Describe what you will do to address what comes up. You may plan for direct action, financial resources, advocacy, or research. Learn about Four Types of Service. Think about how to be fair and equitable and have a meaningful impact. 

    Brainstorm what resources you need, the target of your impact, and the long-term goals of your action.

  5. Discuss the importance of compassion, empathy, and community support in how we respond philanthropically to a crisis.

    Make a statement about the importance of youth voice and getting involved in supporting your community during times of need.