Dear Client and Industry Partners,

It is such a privilege for the BWF team to join you in advancing philanthropy in periods of optimism. It is equally a privilege to be your trusted advisors during times of uncertainty. Recent events and concerns about COVID-19 and the ripple effects it is causing in the stock market have produced several questions about appropriate paths forward.

Our leadership team of Katrina Klaproth, Mark Marshall, and I are watching these situations closely and advising our team to follow not only declared travel restrictions, but also proactive travel concerns. In many cases, we are very willing to travel to our client partner locations and can be flexible to your preference. Should your office establish a remote work environment, please know that you can expect no interruption in service and support from the BWF team. As a firm with consultants already spread across a wide geography, we have been a remote-accessible organization for some time. For any of our active and pending projects, know that we are fully operational and capable of moving projects forward. We continue with regular video meetings with our clients facing travel holds or disruptions. In fact, many of our feasibility study interviews have already moved to video or phone discussions.

The COVID-19 virus has caused remarkable volatility in global stock markets. While this moment is urgent, it is certainly not the first time the philanthropic sector has faced significant financial headwinds. In moments of uncertainty like this drawing lessons from the past is perhaps the best way to chart the correct course. Previous economic challenges have taught us many lessons, including:

1. Stay close to your donors and show them you care.
2, Consider flexibility with pledge construction, even encouraging a first-year payment equivalent if the donor is resistant to signing a multi-year commitment.
3. Consider conditional commitments (for example, pledging a major gift when a stock regains a specific price target).
Carefully examine gift source diversification.
4. Use this opportunity to devote staff resources to overdue infrastructure or system changes.
5. Remind ourselves and our donors that at our core, our missions are even more important in unsettled times. We educate, heal and treat, research, and solve complex issues.

The charitable sector is resilient. In times of uncertainty, philanthropy is more urgent than ever. And our commitment to advancing your essential missions has never been more important. We will all rise to this occasion.

You will be there for your organizations and your donors. And we will be there for you.

Josh Birkholz

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