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New funding from Google CEO, Google.org, and Flourish Ventures

Today, GiveDirectly announced $3 million in new funding for its COVID-19 Relief Fund from Google.org, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Flourish Ventures. This latest round of funding triples GiveDirectly’s emergency fund which is actively providing $1,000 in direct cash payments to families hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis. While government stimulus checks are set to reach families as early as April 9, many of those who need it most likely won’t get it in time, or at all, to fulfill their most basic necessities such as rent, groceries and healthcare. Of the new funding, $2 million will be dedicated to support San Francisco Bay Area residents, supporting over 2,000 more families in the form of cash payments. As one of GiveDirectly’s earliest funders, this builds on a long relationship between GiveDirectly and Google.org. Since 2012, Google.org has provided over $10 million to GiveDirectly to support unconditional cash transfers and the research that validates this approach. 

Last week, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert announced it is raising money for GiveDirectly through the sale of special “United we stand, divided” t-shirts.  All of the proceeds from the sale of these shirts will benefit GiveDirectly and World Central Kitchen. 

GiveDirectly also received $1 million from Flourish, a Venture of The Omidyar Group. Flourish’s commitment will enable the relief fund to reach approximately 1,000 families around the country with $1,000 direct cash payments. Flourish traditionally focuses on venture investments that advance financial health. Their $1 million commitment to GiveDirectly is the first-of-its-kind donation from their fund and aims to act as a signal to others in the venture capital ecosystem that they, too, must look for ways to help during this critical moment by leveraging their assets and know-how to help those in need.

“No economic downturn has happened as rapidly as this one triggered by COVID-19, and our most vulnerable families in America are suffering the greatest blow,” said Emmalyn Shaw, Managing Partner of Flourish Ventures. “As institutional investors in financial innovation, we chose to donate through GiveDirectly and Propel Fresh EBT because these organizations have created the fastest route to put relief funds into the hands of individuals and families who have suffered immediate impacts caused by this global pandemic. We are asking all other investment firms and technology companies to join us in this campaign or make significant donations through their own means.”

Since launching the fund in late March, GiveDirectly has already reached over 1,500 families through its partnership with fintech company Propel. Through Propel’s Fresh EBT app, 200 families receiving SNAP benefits, the nation’s largest public food assistance program, received $1,000 cash payments between March 25-28. Payments were made within four days of enrolling. Another 1,000 families received payment less than a week ago. GiveDirectly has been consistently rated a “Top Charity” by GiveWell, is endorsed by Founders Pledge and their recent COVID-19 relief efforts have earned a 100% rating on Charity Navigator.

As momentum builds for GiveDirectly’s work, CEO Michael Faye also announced a $100 million fundraising goal to deliver $1,000 checks to nearly 100,000 families in need.

“I want to thank all of our partners for stepping up and helping GiveDirectly put money in the hands of families who are struggling to get by. GiveDirectly has the operational capacity to move millions of dollars and we’re working to unlock funds as fast as we can to deliver them,” said GiveDirectly CEO Michael Faye. “As part of our COVID-19 response, we’re also calling on Americans who may not need all or a portion of their stimulus checks to pass the check to someone who does. If just 1 percent of those receiving checks don’t need and donates them — that’s $3.5 billion that we could deliver to those who need immediate, urgent relief.” 

Crisis response has always been a key focus area of Google.org. They’ve supported communities and nonprofits on the front lines through immediate and long-term recovery via products, technical volunteers and over $60 million in funding since 2005.

Since launching the COVID-19 Relief Fund on March 19, over 1,500 individuals and families in 18 states across the country have received direct cash payments, including some of the hardest-hit metro areas: New York City, Seattle, the Bay Area, New Orleans and Detroit. Here is what some of the recipients have said after getting direct cash payments:

  • “I bought my children laptops so they can do remote learning and be able to search the internet and still get the most out of their education. I also was able to go food shopping and make sure my pantry and my freezer were fully stocked. Feeding three children is a lot of food, and this took such a weight off of me so I’m extremely grateful.” —Michelle (Bronx, NY)
  • “At first I thought it was a gimmick. But when I called the card to check the balance, I literally cried. I didn’t know what I was gonna do because I didn’t have anything. No money, I was at the last of my groceries.” —Ivy (Queens, NY)
  • “We’ve been homeless since September 2019. After finding another job, I was able to put my boys and myself up in a hotel, and because my monthly SNAP benefits are already gone for the month of March, the money from GiveDirectly have allowed me to feed my family and also help my boys and I to pay a few more nights in the hotel. Otherwise we would’ve had nowhere to stay…” —Rochal (New Orleans, LA)

To date, GiveDirectly has also received nearly $2 million in support from everyday Americans. In addition, the neighborhood social network service, Nextdoor, the app that connects neighbors, has provided in-kind ad support of up to two million impressions.

About GiveDirectly’s COVID-19 U.S. Relief Fund

GiveDirectly’s COVID-19 U.S. Relief Fund is sending immediate $1,000 direct cash payments to thousands of low-income families in communities that have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Direct giving empowers recipients by letting them decide how they should prioritize their needs — whether it’s spending it on rent, groceries, internet access, tablets for remote learning, or other essentials. To learn more, visit GiveDirectly.org/covid-19.

About Propel

Propel builds modern, respectful, and effective technology that helps low-income Americans improve their financial lives. They are the creators of Fresh EBT, a free app used by over 2 million Americans across the country to manage their food stamp (SNAP) benefits. A study by Harvard economists showed that using Fresh EBT helped stretch food stamps by an average of two days per month. Propel is a mission-driven for-profit company, with support from investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Flourish, Kevin Durant, and Serena Williams. Propel has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and WIRED Magazine and was named a winner of the NYTimes’ Good Tech Award in 2019.To learn more, visit joinpropel.com.