2020, so far, has proven to be quite a challenging year for many of us. It’s be set with natural calamities that have been taking place in different parts of the world: uncontrolled wildfires, volcano eruptions, earthquakes, locust infestations, and various weather events, just to name a few. But perhaps the one that has affected humanity the most is the COVID-19 pandemic. In such a short span of time, the infectious disease has affected more than 5 millionaround the world and claimed the lives of more than 300,000 people, numbers which continue to rise as the days go by.
The necessary measures society has taken to curb the spread of the disease, such as the months-long community quarantine and travel restrictions, have left many governments, businesses, and regular folkswith dwindling resources. At the same time, however, many philanthropic individuals and organizations have stepped up to the challenge. Philanthropists are in a unique position to help by having the ability to take risks in areas where governments and for-profit organizations cannot. They do their part by devoting the resources at their disposal to finding a vaccine or cure for the diseaseand helping vulnerable sectors adapt to the new normal.Let’s take a look at how some of the most famous philanthropists of our time support the fight against COVID-19:
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation –One of the biggest private foundations in the world, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged more than $250 million to the fight against COVID-19. The organization is taking a multi-pronged approach at combatting the virus and its effects. Among its areas of focus are developing and delivering treatments and vaccines for the disease, bolstering support tocommunities, and providing practical assistance to developing effective disease containment and detection systems.
Jack Dorsey – Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square, has pledged more than $1 billion to the cause. In April 8, the multibillionaire announced through Twitter that he will be devoting roughly 28% of his wealth—or $1 billion in Square equity—to fund global relief for COVID-19. Through his newly formed charity Start Small, Dorsey left $100,000 to America’s Food Fund, an organization that offers meals to people affected by the pandemic.
Private giving is in a relatively smaller scale outside of the US, but that does not reflect a lack of philanthropic work in these areas. For example, some of the most visible philanthropic personalities in Asia are:
Azim Premji – Indian entrepreneur Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro Limited and informally known as the Czar of the Indian IT Industry, has committed $134 million to the cause through his philanthropic arm Azim Premji Foundation. The fund will be dedicated to providing humanitarian aid and improving the healthcare system in place for containing the pandemic.
Mukesh Ambani –The richest man in India, Mukesh Ambani, has donated $67 million to the prime minister’s fund and $660,000 each to his home state Maharashtra and Gujarat state, where his oil and gas giant Reliance Industries is based.
Li Ka Shing – Hong Kong business magnate Li Ka Shing founded the Li Ka Shing Foundation, the second largest private foundation in the world. The organization has provided financial and in-kind donations to various charitable institutions, but the tycoon’sprevious donations havealso been used to establish research institutesthat are now spearheading efforts to find the best ways to treat and vaccinate against COVID-19.
Jack Ma – The co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba has donated equipment, testing kits, and masks to countries around the world. He has also pledged more than $14 million to support the development of a vaccine for the disease.
In the Philippines, manywell-known personalities, private individuals, and charitable institutionshave also come together to provide aid to frontline workers and communities that have been heavily affected by the pandemic. This only goes to show that while the situation may be full of uncertainty at the moment, there are many people and organizations—regardless of their financial capabilities—that are more than willing to extend their help to others and see their community through this crisis.