What Does Movement Building Look Like During a Crisis? #MovementMakerTribe Goes to the Frontlines

During normal times, movement building is hard. We pour our blood, sweat, and tears into trying to build momentum and make things happen for the communities and causes we care about. But what new challenges arise when you have momentum, like during a natural disaster or a global crisis, and donors want to give to the cause? How do you make sure all stakeholders are working together? How do you navigate the different local, state, national, and global players, each with their unique systems and sets of rules? How do you make sure funds are used effectively and help gets where it is needed most? 

To find out how philanthropists are confronting this immense challenge, I talked to Chelsea Toller- Hoffman, President of the Keep Families Giving Foundation (KFG), who has mobilized the KFG collective of families and partnerships to create a high-impact COVID-19 emergency healthcare relief fund in partnership with Innovation 4.4 and partners Lina Constantinovici and Lori Katz. Keep Families Giving is a 501(c)3 foundation in Austin dedicated to training and supporting next-generation philanthropists to become effective stewards of their family foundations. Fascinating side note: Chelsea told me about the study that inspired her to do this work indicates 70% of family offices fail within three generations. The preparation of next-gen philanthropists and mission alignment on causes helps improve their successes. That was shocking. 

The KFG emergency COVID-19 Healthcare Relief Fund was born out of a collaboration with Lina Constantinovici, Founder of the non-profit Innovation 4.4, and Lori Katz, advisor to family offices, with a shared purpose to protect lives and meet urgent needs in three priority areas: 1) secure supplies and equipment for healthcare workers 2) ensure continued community care, such as daycare and mental health care for those in need and 3) funding effective treatment and vaccine research. KFG recently named Flatwater Foundation as the mental health partner for the fund who then received a major challenge grant gift from Texas Oncology as well as the Bland Family. KFG looks forward to continuing to inspire more philanthropic dollars to support health during this crisis and allowing for next gen philanthropists to learn about emergency response philanthropy in real time. 

But see, I didn’t just want an overview from Chelsea, I wanted a deep dive. In this new reality, what does a given day look like for Chelsea and KFG?

A Day in the Life of a #Firestarter

Chelsea Toller Hoffman


I got up at 5 a.m. after about three hours of sleep. My husband reminded me to eat and made me soup at 2 a.m. Lina, Lori, Jeff (my dad – we decided to take this mission on as a family) and I had been on various phone calls and reviewing agreements with different donors, hospitals, and families with transportation options from around the world all day and night. Obviously that’s not normal for me, but we are working around the clock to secure as soon as possible VG70 ventilators and equipment for hospitals in New York, New Jersey, and several European countries. Not all hospitals are trained on all models, so it’s important to know a hospital’s specific needs. 

Donors in our shared network stepped up to provide funding to cover what was enough for 60 ventilators at the time.  Since they committed, the market price for ventilators started skyrocketing and proving extremely volatile. That meant that we needed to find another donor to help cover the price difference, as well as secure funding for transporting the ventilators, all of which come from China. We can source medical supplies like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from across the U.S., but ventilators come from China, where only a few manufacturers have been approved and regulations change sometimes by the minute. As you can imagine, that means supplies are limited because these same manufacturers are sending their ventilators around the world. Then we have to obtain clearance from the Chinese embassy, acquire needed letters from government entities as well as work out flight plans to get the equipment back to the U.S.

This problem is too big for any one hospital, one family, or one company to tackle alone. Collaboration is critical. Individuals, families, and companies have to be open to working with one another. That’s the biggest thing they can do to amplify their giving right now. 

A potential transportation and funding solution surfaced via several philanthropists we work with through KFG and Nexus. Within 10 minutes we were connected to leadership contacts at the NBA. While working on several potential solutions two Nexus members and next-gen philanthropists offered private planes to get supplies where they needed to go to save lives. 

At the same time, we’re working on securing the ventilators, we have many other things going on as part of the COVID emergency response. We are trying to educate hospitals that their typical business and thought processes around ordering and supplies have gone out the window, and to aggregate hospitals’ need for ventilators to quickly begin securing funding and sourcing the equipment. We also have a special partnership with a public company that has one of the most accurate COVID-19 tests with early detection that enables us to offer the test at a lower than market price for humanitarian purposes and expedite orders for hospitals and communities in need.

I just had a call with Central Texas hospitals in partnership with Janis Bookout and Ruben Cantu, founders of the Community Resilience Trust (CRT), to provide potential solutions for – St. David’s, Seton, Dell Medical School, Baylor Scott & White, and others — where we discussed how to get everyone collaborating more effectively and earlier around medical equipment needs. We also discussed how to make sure our city’s most vulnerable populations would receive supplies necessary for survival. That will be key to an effective response for Central Texas. 

Fuel from the Frontline: Lessons Learned

Chelsea shared an important quote from mentor and fellow movement maker Ruben Cantu after this call who stated, “If we take a page out of nature it does not care about titles or hierarchy. Nature moves into action because it is all one. Similarly, the strength of CRT is holding space so that we can drive resources to the most needed community. We are creating a model to make Austin the most equitable city and it starts by ensuring communities that have historically been overlooked get the resources they need.” 

KFG is also responsible for helping Giving Tuesday launch a NexGen COVID response campaign, so we are determining how to dovetail that effort with KFG’s while also putting out the fires that pop up everywhere during a crisis. Just when you’ve solved one problem, you have a dozen others present themselves. We actually had to have our KFG next-gen Vice Chair, AnneMarie McComb, stay on one call with healthcare experts while the others started the call with Giving Tuesday HQ team members and various next-gen philanthropy groups simultaneously. 

Something I keep thinking about is how to get more people to step up, and then how to get everyone working together. There’s certainly a lot of mobilization right now to fight COVID, but I think that a lot of sectors and families with the potential to give to emergency funds are frozen. This problem is too big for any one hospital, one family, or one company to tackle alone. Collaboration is critical. Individuals and families have to be open to working with one another. That’s the biggest thing they can do to amplify their giving right now. Similarly, hospitals have to share their vulnerability and challenges. That knowledge sharing will save lives and shore up our weaknesses. I’m heartened by what I’m seeing already, but I know there’s so much more room for people and companies to do more, and for us all to work better together. 

Get in the Game: How You Can Help

Learn more about the KFG fund and partnership’s amazing COVID emergency relief work here. To date, they have organized over 4M in Personal Protective Equipment & Ventilator deliveries to date, including 400,000 masks and 175,000 gowns for nursing homes across the country. 

About the Series: #BeTheLight is a special campaign of #MovementMakerTribe that aims to bring positivity, optimism, and hope during these uncertain times as a result of the Corona virus.

Copyright (c) 2020 Movement Maker. All rights reserved.