Community Foundation’s Role in a Time of Crisis

There are over 850 community foundations in the United States. Each one works uniquely based on their region, mission, and history, but one thing community foundations have in common is being a valued resource in a time of crisis.

Having existing relationships with local nonprofits enables community foundations to act quickly, and time is something you don’t have in a crisis. Whether responding with immediate crisis relief or with long-term recovery, community foundations leverage their knowledge and experience to get help to community members in need.

The Long Beach Community Foundation (LBCF) witnessed this first-hand when we were called to act at the beginning of the pandemic. Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order in March of 2020. Immediately the Long Beach Disaster Relief Fund was activated and in just two weeks LBCF had raised funds and began making grants to provide food, shelter, and critical supplies to so many community members who found themselves in a new, unfortunate life situation. Ultimately $1.3 million was raised from 980 donors and was granted to 89 local nonprofits to help Long Beach residents.

We are not alone. Community foundations across the United States have helped in different times of crisis.  

  • On December 30, 2021, the Marshall fire destroyed nearly 1,000 homes in Boulder County, Colorado. The Boulder County Community Foundation raised $19.5 million from over 57,000 donors. In the first twelve days of the disaster response, approximately $3.8 million was distributed directly to individuals most affected by the fires. 
  • On June 24, 2021, a twelve-story residential building with 136 units partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida. The Coral Gables Community Foundation, The Key Biscayne Community Foundation, and The Miami Foundation stood together to build a relief fund and distribute $5 million to those impacted. 
  • On May 22, 2011, Joplin Missouri was struck by the deadliest tornado in US history. The Community Foundation of the Ozarks is a member with twenty other midwestern community foundations active in disaster recovery. $13 million in grant funding assisted those impacted by the tornado. 
  • In 2019, 15 tornadoes ripped through Dayton, Ohio. Four months later, nine lives were taken in a mass shooting which was followed by the ravaging impact of the pandemic. Funds were set up at The Dayton Foundation to assist with each of these three tragedies. Giving totaled over $8 million from over 8000 gifts. 
  • In 2018 south-central Wisconsin experienced devastating flooding. Working with their local county office of emergency management, The Community Foundation of South Central Wisconsin served as the steward of donations for long-term recovery (after all other options had been exhausted). They have received and distributed over $300,000 in gifts to accomplish this. 

LBCF continues to manage the Long Beach Disaster Relief Fund and manages the Community Impact Fund which annually decides on a grant focus to address the most pressing needs in our community.

Twenty-five years ago, LBCF Founders had the belief that our city needed a community foundation and Long Beach is better because of their vision and commitment. We are grateful to serve the Long Beach community.


To learn more about LBCF’s response during the pandemic or the Community Impact Fund, email