Shortly before the Danish lockdown in March, the Foundation held its annual meeting where the plans for the year’s philanthropic activities were approved. The framework for donations was expanded to DKK 200 million with the intention of celebrating Grundfos’ 75th anniversary. But with the arrival of COVID-19, reality changed and the Foundation had to adapt. Businesses, workplaces, institutions, citizens; all had to adapt to new ways of living and co-existing. Tough restrictions like social distancing, frequent hand disinfection and testing became the new normal in societies all over the world.
The Grundfos Group and its 19,000 employees also needed to adapt. Without hesitation, Group Management implemented a number of measures to protect the employees, care for its suppliers and reach out to society. Grundfos quickly became part of the public emergency preparedness plan through producing personal protective equipment which could be donated by the Foundation both to healthcare authorities and aid organisations.
Philanthropy in a pandemic
We immediately reached out to our many partners with a promise of flexibility and willingness to redirect project funding to COVID-19 prevention and awareness. New partners were added as their skills and knowledge were needed acutely to help all over the world. The Foundation’s staff established home offices, the Board of Directors had to meet online, and a dialogue with other foundations in Denmark was opened to help Danish society through the crisis in a coordinated manner.
Within Research, the Foundation has prioritised initiatives to mitigate the worst consequences of the pandemic. Among other things. We changed the scope of one of our flagship research projects at Aalborg University, originally set out to create an atlas of the Danish microflora. Instead, the lab became a key player in mapping and tracking virus DNA in close collaboration with public health authorities. Other projects were able to stay on track, such as a very interesting lake restoration and phosphorus recovery project involving several Danish universities.
We altered our water projects in developing countries to focus on hygiene awareness, social distancing and disease prevention, especially in connection with water infrastructure provided by the Foundation and its partners. Together with Water Mission alone, we have established 7,866 hand washing stations helping almost 680,000 people ensure good hand hygiene in countries across the globe in 2020. In total, we have reached 1 million with hand washing facilities and 2 million with hygiene information.
The Foundation’s efforts within inclusion and community engagement also changed scope as we partnered with the Danish Red Cross to mitigate the negative effects of social isolation for many of the vulnerable citizens. We also established the Poul Due Jensen Community Engagement Grant to support local community engagement in locations where Grundfos is present with offices or factories. We have witnessed Grundfos companies and employees taking pride in helping their local communities cope with the consequences of the pandemic.
- Dive into the developments, challenges and successes of 2020 in our Annual Review
Over the year, the Foundation has updated its strategy to improve our philanthropic framework and bring together the Foundation’s three donation areas to create more collective impact and sustainable development, wherever we engage.
Looking back, 2020 has been an exceptional and dramatic year. The COVID-19 crisis affected our philanthropic activities, it brought a historical change in Grundfos’ organisation, where a sudden change of CEO demanded extra attention from our side. On the other hand, our agility, changed processes and alliances with Grundfos, with our strategic partners and with other foundations have proven very strong. These are valuable experiences which we will carry with us into 2021.