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3 Ways Foundations Can Support Frontline Staff Right Now

Jenny Love
Published:  04/24/2020

two hands holding heart

People need each other more than ever, and the frontline staff at your hospital might need you even more than most. Here are a few creative ways to help them with some of their most fundamental needs.


The pandemic has caused a dramatic increase in financial hardship, and like many Americans your staff may be in need of money to cover rent and other bills, car repairs, and child or eldercare. 

Many foundations already have a fund to provide assistance to staff who have fallen on hard times; however, some include policies that limit the source of contributions to other staff. If yours is one of them, consult with your regulatory affairs or compliance department to see whether it is currently legal to expand your scope to solicit outside donors, for example through Protect the Heroes. Community members are looking for ways to support frontline hospital workers, and many foundations have made successful appeals, and received unsolicited donations, to help their staff during this difficult time.

If you are setting up an employee assistance fund for the first time, in addition to determining the scope of donors you’ll accept, you will also need to create a policy to lay out what constitutes financial hardship, the monetary value of grants, and who will make award decisions. Be sure to establish a consistent, transparent process to build employee trust.


Food is another high-need category for both hospital staff and patients, and in many communities the public is stepping in to provide it—though not always at the right time or in the right quantities.

If well-intentioned people in your community are donating food that can’t be used, encourage them to buy gift cards for local restaurants instead—a win for the local economy as well as the caregivers. Distribute gift cards to managers to buy food for their staff to ensure the largest number of people possible benefit from the generosity. 

In addition to arranging catered meals, at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Florida, staff have set up a “grocery depot” to help feed frontline workers. Hospital staff work with a local food bank, food distributors, restaurant owners, and caterers to assemble bags of perishable and nonperishable food to hand out at shift change twice a day. Frontline staff pick up a bag in their car as they leave after their shift. The foundation is using funds from their employees-helping-employees fund to offset the cost of the program, and hopefully to provide stewardship opportunities for that fund’s giving campaign in the future.

If you don’t have the resources to manage food donations directly, organizations like Frontline Foods can help connect you with individuals and restaurants looking to coordinate meal deliveries for hospitals.


Hospital employees with children face an additional hurdle during a time when schools and daycares are closed and older relatives can’t step in to help for fear of contagion. In some states, hospital associations and governments have stepped in to fill the void, but childcare remains a challenge for many. 

Foundations can support staff to find childcare directly, through establishing partnerships with childcare providers like the YMCA, or through one of many networks of medical student-babysitters springing up around the country. In addition to providing childcare services, medical students in groups such as COVIDsitters assist caregivers with pets, shopping, and even online tutoring.

Whether you use these ideas or go in another direction entirely, I am grateful. Your hard work for frontline workers is allowing frontline workers to work hard for us all.

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Meet The Author

Jenny Love
Association for Healthcare Philanthropy

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