COVID-19 Doesn’t Need To Slow You Down


There is no reason philanthropic efforts must come to a grinding halt during tumultuous times.


In the past week, I’ve heard a dozen examples of philanthropists who dramatically slowed or halted their work because of cancelled trips or the need to work remotely. Assuming loved ones and colleagues are not ill, there is no reason philanthropic efforts must come to a grinding halt because of COVID-19. While face-to-face interaction is great, there are many ways to work remotely.

Here are three examples of philanthropists slowing down during the pandemic:

  • A start-up had plans to launch its first corporate giving program and was looking forward to receiving feedback from nonprofit organizations during an upcoming meeting. The meeting was cancelled because of concerns about COVID-19. So, the company decided to postpone launching it’s giving program until the fall when they can re-convene the group.
  • A foundation leader planned to fly across the country to seek advice from a colleague about a new project of strategic importance to their organization. His organization has asked all employees to refrain from nonessential travel, so he rescheduled the trip for five months later.
  • The leader of a corporate giving program told a grantee that he would be unable to respond for a few weeks because the company has asked employees to work remotely.

If something is strategically important, develop and implement it using the tools at your disposal as quickly as possible. And if it’s not that important, don’t do it. Working remotely means just that. Working. From a different location.

It’s wise to seek community input before launching a new grants program. Seeking feedback from trusted colleagues before dramatically changing strategy is also smart. But there are myriad ways to seek input and advice that don’t require in-person communication. You can talk to people on the phone, hold video conference calls, conduct phone interviews, conduct online focus groups, and do email surveys. You can do all of this for free (or minimal cost) using easily available technology such as your smart phone, Zoom, Skype, SurveyMonkey and more.

You can do this starting today. You don’t need to wait five to seven months!

Similarly, these tools are available to the remote worker. Twenty years ago, working remotely required a computer, printer, internet access, a table, chair, and a fax machine. Not much has changed (except perhaps the fax machine!). Today you can remotely access just about anything you need from computers and smart phones – including grants management systems, constituent engagement systems, email, voicemail, and of course your grantees and colleagues.

Sure working remotely can be challenging at first, especially if this is something that you aren’t used to. You might have children home from school, a spouse who is also working from home, or a pile of laundry calling your name. Once you pull through any initial feelings of shock and disorientation, and adjust to your temporary “new normal,” you can put simple practices in place to ensure you and your colleagues are productive while not in the office.

For example, establish working routines. Give people control over how and when they work. Focus on the results, not a schedule. Check in on your employees daily to see how they are doing and what you can do to support them. Make sure they have access to the technology they need and show them how to use it. Be flexible. Offer to extend deadlines if that will help them juggle work and family.

And if it’s not possible to get your work done remotely, perhaps because of cybersecurity restrictions on technology access, then do the things you always wished you had time to do: Read that article. Learn and develop yourself professionally by listening to a podcast or watching a webinar. Call your grantees and ask them how they are doing and how you can help. Conduct online research for your next funding initiative. Get to inbox zero. Or simply think. 

To learn more ways to increase the speed of your philanthropy and increase the impact of your giving, check out my new book, Delusional Altruism: Why Philanthropists Fail To Achieve Change and What They Can Do To Transform GivingPre-order it before March 22to get a free webinar, keynote, or private consultation with me!

Are you you interested in working with a trusted advisor to philanthropists? Working from home? No problem. I can help you remotely! I have more than 20 years of experiencehelping ultra-high net worth donors, foundations, wealth advisors, and Fortune 500 companies to get the most impact out of their charitable giving. A little guidance goes a long way, so let’s talk!

This article was originally written for and published by Forbes.

© 2020 Kris Putnam-Walkerly. All rights reserved. Permission granted to excerpt or reprint with attribution.

About Kris Putnam-Walkerly


I’m a global philanthropy expert, advisor and award-winning author. I help ultra-high net worth donors, celebrities, foundations and Fortune 500 companies dramatically increase the clarity, speed, impact and joy of their giving. I’m the author of Delusional Altruism: Why Philanthropists Fail to Achieve Change And What They Can Do To Transform GivingandConfident Giving: Sage Advice for Funders, was named one of “America’s Top 25 Philanthropy Speakers”, I write about philanthropy for Forbes.comAlliance MagazineDe Dikke Blauwe and am frequently quoted in leading publications such as BloombergNPRand WSJ

Whether you are just getting started in philanthropy, want to refresh your giving strategy, or need to catapult yourself to your desired future, I can help. Let’s talk! Call me at +1-800-598-2102 x1, email me at or schedule a call.

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Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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