As Donations Shift in the Pandemic, New Databases Aim to Help

In the first nine months of this year, the foundation began to focus on grants to people who were laid off by its partner organizations. Since the start of the year, it has given 65 percent more to nonprofit groups than it had in all of 2019.

“We gave about 42 micro-grants, between $500 and $1,000 to teaching artists, who were the first to be let go,” said Matt D’Arrigo, director of creative youth development at the Clare Rose Foundation. “You think, how could that amount matter? You don’t realize what an impact that made. This was before P.P.P. and enhanced unemployment,” he dded, referring to the Paycheck Protection Program and jobless benefits in the federal virus relief law.

The foundation has joined with others in San Diego to create a larger fund for arts teachers struggling to find work.

Likewise, the Voorhis Foundation, set up by Silicon Valley investors Grace and Steve Voorhis, had been focused on a multiyear research project on how to achieve more equitable educational outcomes. But given the new travel restrictions, the project was shelved.

Instead, the foundation found ways to make individual grants to the neediest families of children enrolled at KIPP Academy in San Francisco, part of a national network of charter schools. From late March to mid-June, the foundation gave $239,000 in direct grants to 330 families.

“We got it up quickly,” Ms. Voorhis said. “I don’t think I’d do this every year, because I think the audit process is going to be a nightmare with 330 individual families, some without a mailing address. But it’s been a very rewarding process.”

That’s where these new databases hope to step in.

Both the Clare Rose and Voorhis Foundations were giving to individuals connected to organizations that they were already supporting. They credited the Foundation Source with having legal documents ready so they could give to individuals, which the Internal Revenue Service allows under an extreme situation with a limit of $5,000 a person.