Gates, Facebook And Donors Pitching In On COVID-19 Fight

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard have committed up to $125 million in seed funding to speed-up the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing, and scaling-up treatments. The partners are committed to equitable access, including making products available and affordable in low-resource settings.

The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will play a catalytic role by accelerating and evaluating new and repurposed drugs and biologics to treat patients with COVID-19 in the immediate term, and other viral pathogens in the longer-term. Currently there are no broad-spectrum antivirals or immunotherapies available for the fight against emerging pathogens, and none approved for use on COVID-19.

The Gates Foundation and Wellcome are each contributing up to $50 million, and the Mastercard Impact Fund has committed up to $25 million to catalyze the initial work of the accelerator. The Gates Foundation’s funding is part of its up to $100 million commitment to the COVID-19 response announced last month.

Facebook on Friday announced $20 million in matching donations to support relief efforts in response to COVID-19, including $10 million for the United Nations Foundation (UNF) and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) newly established COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, as well as $10 million for the CDC Foundation.

In the four days since it was announced, the Facebook Fundraiser has received more than 100,000 donations, approaching $3 million of its $10-million goal. The CDC Foundation will launch its own Facebook Fundraiser in the coming weeks. Those funds will directly aid public health responders in local communities, create education campaigns and more, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post announcing the efforts.

“It’s critical that global and national health organizations leading the response efforts have the financial support needed in rapidly emerging response needs,” he wrote. “Following major crises, like Covid-19, our community always steps up to help. Because this is a health crisis, it’s not as easy for people to know how or where to help. Now, with the launch of the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fundraiser, they can support and donate to the WHO’s global efforts to track and understand the spread of the virus; to ensure patients get the care they need and frontline workers get essential supplies and information; and to accelerate efforts to develop vaccines, tests, and treatments.”

Health nonprofits are an exceptional outlier on Facebook Fundraisers, according to the annual M+R Benchmarks Report. On average, nonprofits raised $1.77 through Facebook for every $100 raised through other online channels but health nonprofits received almost $30 through Facebook. “In other words, for health organizations, Facebook donations accounted for about 30 percent as much revenue as every other source of online revenue, including email, web giving, monthly donors, digital ads, and search.”

San Diego-based fundraising platform Classy reported a spike in donations to health sector charities by 38 percent during the past two months. Donations to other, non-health related charities, such as environment and education, remained flat. Multiple nonprofits are running online fundraising campaigns via Classy amid the outbreak, including MedShare, CDC Foundation and World Ventures Foundation.