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In the Time of Coronavirus: Resources to Support Professional Learning From Home

by Tory Martin
In the Time of Coronavirus: Resources to Support Professional Learning From Home

Many of us in philanthropy look forward to spring’s “conference season” as an opportunity to connect with far-flung colleagues and hone new skills. Yet this spring is different. The list of cancelled conferences and professional development courses is long, and likely to get longer — even as effective philanthropy becomes more important than ever.

Consider this list of professional development opportunities, guidance, and resources that can help keep your work on track while you practice social distancing and work remotely. All are available online, many at no cost.

Consider inviting your long-distance colleagues to a philanthropy-focused reading group — via conference line.

Instead of in-person coffees, use your platforms to invite them to a virtual “book club,” focused on readings that will help advance your work. Reading collections include:

  • Inclusive Growth: New Strategies for Prosperity

We cannot yet tally the economic impact coronavirus will have on global society, but we know that it will be staggering. As is the case with most disasters, that decline is likely to hit socioeconomically vulnerable populations — hourly wage earners, single-parent families, women and racial/ethnic minorities — the hardest.

Efforts to support inclusive growth communities — geographies in which all residents share in local prosperity and have access to resources and opportunities for advancement — will be more imperative than ever in post-coronavirus communities. Rebuilding local economies will require leaders who are ready to make tough decisions and dream up innovative solutions that can support entire populations.

Familiarize yourself with the concept, principles, and key examples of successful inclusive growth communities around the U.S. with a series of articles and videos available in our Inclusive Growth collection.

  • Learning for Good

As external opportunities for professional learning shift, the spotlight on how organizations embed learning into their practice year-round is getting brighter. This includes efforts to learn consistently with partners — grantees, funders, community members, and peer organizations.

Learning for Good is a collection of articles, webinars, and issues of The Foundation Review that highlights insights and tools you can begin adopting now as you consider how new information and feedback are flowing through your organization in a time of crisis.

Start your reading with key tips for grantmakers: Learning Together: Five tips for building relationships that lead to learning.

  • Candid’s Online Library

Candid offers a rich online library of 265 philanthropy-focused e-books and audiobooks that practitioners can borrow the same way they’d take a book out from their public library. The platform is powered by OverDrive, which will be familiar to most Kindle and other e-books users.

Explore titles at

New staff may be struggling to find their place while working from home.

Many organizations are still hiring and onboarding new staff even as they cancel in-person orientations and lunches with colleagues. That doesn’t mean they can’t spend this time getting up to speed on their new roles. A plethora of online learning opportunities can help you and your staff get the most out of remote time.

  • LearnPhilanthropy Academy

LearnPhilanthropy Academy is an on-demand, online learning program designed to make it easy for new staff and lifelong learners alike to expand their knowledge of philanthropy.

In Track 1: The Philanthropic Sector, 14 short videos written and narrated by expert professionals ground viewers in the basics — the trends, vocabulary, and critical questions that drive our work and shape our sector.

Start Track 1 at

  • Free & Archived Webinars

Many organizations sector-wide make previously-recorded webinars available for free or for purchase. Johnson Center webinars can all be found on our YouTube channel. They feature topics like evaluation and impact investing, how to harness the power of Giving Tuesday, and dozens of videos with the authors of articles from The Foundation Review.

Nonprofit Hub offers a Guide to the Best Free Nonprofit Webinars. Platforms like Network for Good, Classy, and Candid also offer broad-ranging content.

Philanthropy’s strategies for responding to the impacts of coronavirus will play out over months, or even years.

Network organizations like the Council of Michigan Foundations, ComNet (the Communications Network), the National Council of Nonprofits, and others are sharing in-depth resources for how funders and nonprofits can shift their strategies to respond to unfolding needs in the short- and long-term. These are the kinds of topics we often wrestle with at conferences and other professional development courses. Today’s unique circumstances compel all of us to seek out this kind of information ourselves.

  • Resources to Help Nonprofits from The Chronicle of Philanthropy

The Chronicle of Philanthropy compiles advice from sector experts on preparing for and responding to different types of disasters. While many articles are pandemic-specific, others offer advice on fundraising and sustainability during a financial recession, outline best practices for crisis communications, or use the lens of the 2019 Amazon fires as a case study for nonprofit response.

View the collection Responding to the Coronavirus Outbreak: Resources to Help Nonprofits

  • The Disaster Philanthropy Playbook

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy offers a Disaster Philanthropy Playbook to help community-minded practitioners prepare for the worst. Specific guidance is available for funders and donors, national and regional associations, and nonprofits and government. The tool is aimed at helping foundations and donors develop strategies that support long-term community recovery.

View the playbook at

  • Summit Replay: Journeys After Trauma

As needs skyrocket, donors who plan their giving with family members may find this to be a time of urgent negotiation and intergenerational discussion. It may also be a time for assessing whether your family giving is as proactive as you want it to be.

In Journeys After Trauma, a conversation from our 2019 National Summit on Family Philanthropy, Lee Ippolito Jurewitz describes her family foundation’s work in the wake of multiple hurricanes to become more proactive about supporting community resilience.

View the story here.

While your kids are at home, share some lessons in philanthropy.

States and districts across the country have closed schools through the end of the month, if not longer. Many practitioners are now taking on the role of full-time educator for their kids, young neighbors, and close friends. Consider using this time to open a discussion with your children about the role of philanthropy in their lives, in your family, and in our society.

  • Learning to Give

Learning to Give provides teacher-created lesson plans and activities you can add in to your child’s new at-home curriculum. These resources are designed to help teachers, parents, and caregivers “educate, equip, and empower their students to be giving and caring citizens.”

Explore free lessons and videos at

  • Engaging Next Gen Donors as Teenagers

A guide meant for engaging teenagers in family philanthropy may be particularly helpful during this time.

Engaging Next Gen Donors as Teenagers features nine practical tips intended for anyone seeking to support and engage teen next gen donors. This work is based on research conducted by the Johnson Center’s Dr. Michael Moody and 21/64’s Sharna Goldseker.