Philanthropic leadership in times of crisis: Trafigura Foundation’s commitment during COVID-19

The non-profit sector, as the rest of the world, is being shattered by COVID-19.

Like businesses, NGOs and charities are facing tremendous challenges in their operations: lack of staff, confinement and lockdown, travel restrictions, social distancing making their daily routines with their beneficiaries almost impossible.

These organisations serve communities affected by poverty, stigma, and violence. Obviously, the current situation puts an additional layer of suffering to people who are already extremely vulnerable. Furthermore, the very survival of some of these organisations can be at stake, due to lack of adequate financing.

Grant-makers have a responsibility to help them all – organisations and beneficiaries under their care – overcome the crisis unharmed. There is currently a strong and widely shared movement in the world of grant-making to establish basic principles for supporting our partners through these troubled times. We are part of that conversation with our peers to define and adopt a strategy and principles guiding our immediate action.

In a nutshell, these are:

  • Responsibility. We have responsibilities towards our partners and their beneficiaries. As such, we will always act having their fate in mind.
  • Versatility. We will work out practical solutions with our partners, even if they may deviate from initial plans and schedules. We will examine, on a case-by-case basis, momentary deviations in the use of funds compared to the initial plans so they can be geared towards mitigating the impact of the crisis on the ultimate beneficiaries. If within our possibilities, we will consider additional funds to help some partners overcome the situation.
  • Flexibility and agility. We fully appreciate that our partners will not be able to deliver the results and reach the targets that we agreed at the outset of our partnership. We will thus not hold them responsible for their failure to meet objectives if and when a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis. We will not impose unnecessary burdens and requirements on our partners. In particular, we will show flexibility in our reporting requirements.

We are receiving an exceptional number of queries from all our partners, worldwide, sharing their anxiety about the immediate future and in dire need of support. My team and I are reviewing every single query and trying to address them the best we can, without compromising on our duty to make sure our funds are used responsibly, with impact and with full transparency.

As a matter of fact, we are temporarily reshaping our full allocation of resources to adequately address this global crisis, as most of our partners are already affected by the crisis. We are mobilizing all our leadership and resources for that purpose.

In addition to this part of our work, often invisible to many, we are also working very closely with Trafigura Charity Committees, the groups of employees organising volunteering activities with their offices, to support them in helping their own communities navigate the crisis. There too, we will be – within our possibilities – providing the financial aid they may need.

Feel free to reach out to us if you wish to know more. We will do our best to share openly and regularly our undertakings, but please keep in mind that our priority is making sure that our partners and beneficiaries can overcome with as little damages as possible the crisis.

Vincent Faber, Executive Director of the Trafigura Foundation

25th March 2020



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