June 2, 2021

How Philanthropy Can Still Make a Difference in the Global COVID-19 Pandemic

Author National Philanthropic Trust

The first American received a COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020. Five months later, the U.S. has reached a vaccination tipping point—today more than half of American adults are fully vaccinated.

But as the vaccine rollout reaches scale in the U.S., global vaccination rates are inconsistent and unequal. According to the World Health Organization, 87% of vaccines have been administered in wealthy countries while low-income countries received just 0.2%. Haiti, for example, has yet to administer a single dose.

There are numerous factors contributing to inequities in vaccine access—supply challenges as governments and vaccine manufacturers negotiate distribution, storage infrastructure, population density and more. While infections and deaths continue, philanthropists may be looking for ways to help accelerate global vaccine distribution, and perhaps more importantly, contribute to COVID-19 prevention measures like testing and PPE distribution.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of organizations dedicated to both the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, and to COVID-19 prevention and mitigation. You may also be interested in this index of organizations doing concurrent international aid and development work.


Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations

Based in Norway, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) works to stimulate and accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and enable access to these vaccines during outbreaks.*

Direct Relief (EIN 95-1831116)

Every aspect of Direct Relief’s organizational capacity is devoted to the coronavirus response. The organization is leveraging its global distribution infrastructure and financial resources to aid public health agencies conducting COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. In Haiti, the organization is focusing now on hurricane preparedness and infrastructure in order to protect against further interruptions to the nation’s healthcare system.

Project HOPE (EIN 53-0242962)

Project HOPE is supporting vaccination roll-out strategies, including vaccine administration and aid, training, and equipment to countries struggling with recent outbreaks like India, Nepal and Yemen.

UNICEF USA (EIN 13-1760110)

UNICEF has been entrusted to lead vaccine delivery in more than 180 countries, representing 80% of the world’s population. From drones to donkeys, UNICEF is doing whatever it takes to deliver the vaccines, all while providing training for health care workers to administer the vaccines as safely and efficiently as possible. In Haiti, the organization is focusing on available vaccinations as well as basic nutritional support.

United Nations Foundation (EIN 58-2368165)

In partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Foundation launched the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. This critical early funding helped WHO start vaccine trials in over 100 countries and continues to support WHO’s crucial coordination of the worldwide response to end the pandemic and its efforts to enable equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.

*Direct contributions to CEPI are generally not tax deductible for U.S. donors.


Rina Alvarez is the Regional Director, Midwest at National Philanthropic Trust. She is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®) with deep experience in bridging partnerships between the corporate and nonprofit sectors.  Rina holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a BA in Sociology from St. Mary’s College in South Bend, IN. 

NPT is not affiliated with any of the organizations described herein, and the inclusion of any organization in this material should not be considered an endorsement by NPT of such organization, or its services or products. NPT does not provide legal or tax advice. This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be, and shall not be relied upon as, legal or tax advice. The applicability of information contained here may vary depending on individual circumstances.


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