COVID-19 Local Impact Investing

In a crisis such as COVID-19, small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals without savings are the first to be impacted.  According to FEMA, 40% of small businesses do not reopen after a disaster. Of those that do, 25% fail within a year.  Four in 10 adults can’t cover an emergency expense of $400 or more. Less than half of nonprofits have one month of operating reserves and less than six months of cash to keep them running.

Community Development Financial Institutions such as CommunityWorks Carolina tend to be the first responders to community financial needs. Because CDFI’s are nimble and flexible, they can deploy capital quickly where it is needed most. During the housing crisis and natural disasters here in South Carolina, CommunityWorks was a leader in creating financial products and coaching to help nonprofits, small businesses and vulnerable populations. COVID-19 is no different.

Foundations, corporations, and individual investors can respond to community financial needs by making an investment in CommunityWorks.  CommunityWorks has the capital to lend to community members, and it has the staff and expertise to deploy these funds in a timely manner.  However, it needs need support from philanthropy, individuals, foundations and financial institutions to help set up a special loan loss reserve to back stop any losses and to protect borrowers and CommunityWorks long term.

Support can be in the form of direct contributions or as 0-2% Percent Short Term Program Related Investment (PRI) with an option for interest deferral or loan forgiveness.

This will allow CommunityWorks to offer the following to support small businesses, nonprofit partners and consumers to meet immediate needs.

  1. COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund Line of Credit for small businesses: up to $10,000
  2. COVID-19 Community (nonprofit) Relief Fund Line of Credit to help nonprofit partners: up to $50,000 unsecured and $250,000 secured
  3. COVID-19 Consumer Relief Fund loan to help with emergencies: up to $1,500 in partnership with Self Help Credit Union.

Learn more about the fund and ways investors can participate.


The Jolley Foundation trustees (l to r): Mac Bruce, Jolley Christman, Duff Bruce, Andrew Christman

The Jolley Foundation
A COVID-19 impact investor’s story

By Tish McCutchen, Program Officer

We at the Jolley Foundation have been thinking hard about what it means to be a philanthropist at a time like this. What Greenville needs us to be, and to do. What this crisis means for those who were already teetering on the edge of insolvency. To whom we should be (virtually) reaching out, and what message we should share. Whether using or preserving should be our priority for the Foundation’s resources.

We’re guessing you’re wrestling with the same kinds of questions. We’ll all make our own best decisions; the strength of GPP is in the diversity of its members. In case it’s of any help, here’s what we’ve decided to do, and why.

First and foremost: the Jolley Foundation is not pulling back. During 2020, we will distribute roughly the same amount across our two regular grant cycles as we did in 2019, regardless of what happens in the stock market. We are not going to leave Greenville’s nonprofit community and the people they serve in the lurch.

On top of our regular grant distributions, we are dedicating additional funding to Covid-19 relief in several ways. We made a grant to the United Way Covid-19 Relief Fund when it was created. We’re so grateful to United Way and its partners for spearheading the identification of and response to food, shelter, housing, and childcare challenges that families began facing immediately. We will be making a few specific off-cycle grants to trusted partners on the front lines of human need. And in keeping with our commitment to place-based social impact investing, we are making a program-related investment in CommunityWorks’ Covid-19 Relief Loan Fund; a multi-year, zero-interest loan to help fund the consumer loan fund created to provide a low-interest alternative to predatory lenders. Since CommunityWorks was created 10 years ago as a community development financial institution, it has served the financial needs of people and businesses for whom mainstream banking is often not an option. In this time, when financial and human needs are overlapping as never before, CommunityWorks’ unique position is even more important. We’re proud to be a partner.

Finally, we’re keeping our original spring grant deadline of April 1. However, rather than making awards at the end of May, as in past years, we will make decisions by the end of April and get checks out the door as soon as possible afterwards. We know the dedicated people leading our community’s nonprofits are staying awake at night, wondering if they and their organizations — and their clients — will make it through these dark days.

We look forward to learning from our GPP colleagues how you’re responding. If you have any questions about anything the Jolley Foundation is doing, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Tish McCutchen at [email protected] or 703.980.0023. We are, truly, all in this together — and together is how we’ll get through it.

Tish McCutchen
Program Officer