The San Antonio Area Foundation is in the Pearl.
The San Antonio Area Foundation gave $1 million from the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation to the COVID-19 Response Fund. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.

Nonprofit organizations providing immediate relief and long-term recovery efforts to those affected by the novel coronavirus can tap into a $2.7 million fund administered by two charitable organizations in San Antonio.

The COVID-19 Response Fund, administered by the San Antonio Area Foundation and United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, will help nonprofits that address the impact of work lost or reduced due to the novel coronavirus and that provide economically vulnerable populations’ immediate needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The response fund also will support nonprofits that address demands for medical information and support, resources for vulnerable residents confused or fearful about COVID-19, and resources for families with school-age children.

“The COVID-19 Response Fund is a perfect vehicle for combining efforts to help the community when it matters the most,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg in a statement Thursday. “I am grateful to the organizations that launched this effort, and I encourage everyone to participate. The fund is a way to truly make a difference in lives disrupted.”

The San Antonio Area Foundation, which is hosting the fund, has teamed up with partners such as the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, the 80|20 Foundation, Tobin Endowment, Greehey Family Foundation, Wells Fargo, Mays Family Foundation, Bank of San Antonio, NuStar Energy, H. E. Butt Foundation, Harvey E. Najim and the Najim Charitable Foundation, and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The San Antonio Area Foundation is handling donations from philanthropists and organizations, while the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County has set up a website for individual donations of $25 or more.

“Supporting our community through these challenging times is at the heart of the work we do every day at the United Way,” Chris Martin, CEO for the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, said in a statement. “Strengthening the infrastructure of our nonprofit network is critical to the immediate response and longer-term recovery for our community’s children, individuals and families.”

The United Way logo projected onto a wall
The United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County will co-administer the COVID-19 Response Fund. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The Area Foundation led contributions by giving $1 million to the COVID-19 fund from the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, said Rebecca Helterbrand, the foundation’s vice president of strategy and innovation. The fund, which had raised more than $2.7 million as of Thursday, will continue to raise money indefinitely from interested organizations and individuals.

“It’s slated for COVID-19,” she said. “We expect this to be an ongoing, rolling basis. What we know today may change … 120 days from now. That’s why this fund is so important, and that’s why we’re managing evolving needs. We’re in unprecedented territory. We want to be responsive to the community and so do our partners.”

Meanwhile, the Big Give’s emergency relief donation website went live on Wednesday. As of Friday, the community had contributed more than $127,000. The website will remain open for donations indefinitely.

The Big Give is coordinated each year by the Nonprofit Council and has raised money for South Texas nonprofit organizations since 2014. The annual event was originally scheduled for March 26 but was postponed until September due to COVID-19 needs.

“The tremendous outpouring of support in just one day, especially amidst all of the chaos, shows how quickly area nonprofits were able to get the word out to donors about the emergency relief platform and how quickly the community responded,” said Scott McAninch, CEO of the Nonprofit Council, in a statement Friday. “We are overjoyed with the community’s support and hope that donations will continue to grow. These funds are helping nonprofits ensure that they can serve the needs of so many in our community at this difficult time.

Next week, the Area Foundation will announce awards for some nonprofits that are providing immediate response to people affected by the coronavirus, Helterbrand said. Others can apply for funding on the Area Foundation’s website starting Friday. Those applications will be reviewed by the foundation and its partners, and applicants will receive a decision within 10 business days.

The foundation aims to award grants as quickly as possible, said CEO Marjie French.

“I am deeply thankful for the caring spirit of our philanthropic community and the generous partners who have joined us at this important time in our community’s history,” she said in a statement Thursday.

Individuals interested in donating to the fund can do so at the United Way’s COVID-19 Response Fund website,, or by texting HELPSATX to 41444.

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.