My Favorite Funder Responses so Far to COVID-19

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

It’s still early in the COVID-19 crisis, yet many funders have already taken important steps to support grantees.

Dozens of community foundations have established rapid response funds, which will be hugely important. Kudos to Seattle Foundation for being the first.

Many private foundations have indicated they will be flexible with grantees and that grantees should contact them to renegotiate timelines and deliverables.

That flexibility is good. However, the 3 commitments I’ve been most impressed with so far are listed below. They’re notable to me because they’re specific and don’t require each grantee to go to the funder and negotiate changes one at a time.

My favorites are:

Providing an extra year of funding

Robert Sterling Clark Foundation is providing an extra year of funding to grantees. They wrote: “Add one additional year to every grant. We hope that this will ease some funding concerns and allow you to focus on serving your communities, not on us. The ‘Plus One’ pushes grant terms out so you don’t have to do anything in 2020. For multi-year grants that were completed in 2019, we will extend them to include this year. For current grants, we will add one year to the existing agreements.”

Converting all project grants to general operating support

The Eisner Foundation wrote: “If you are a current grantee, we are happy to convert any restricted funds to general operating support. In addition, we are suspending all reporting requirements until further notice. We know you have more important things to do right now than file a report with us, and we know that we can trust you to utilize our funds as most needed.”

Accelerating payments on already-approved grants

Lumina Foundation: “To ensure Lumina’s partners maintain sufficient cash flow, we can accelerate payments under already-approved grants, based on an organization’s circumstances. This includes payments scheduled for later in 2020 or in 2021. For example, if you have a second grant payment due in the fall or even in 2021, we could make this payment earlier.”

What funder responses have you seen that have impressed you? We want to know. Please share in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook.

And please send these examples along to your colleagues in philanthropy.

P.S. I was also impressed with a different take on the rapid response fund. Nellie Mae Education Foundation wrote: “[We] created this rapid response fund to respond to the hate crimes and bias against Asian American communities resulting from COVID-19. The Foundation has allocated resources for the Racism is a Virus Too rapid response grant fund to support Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) that provide services for AAPI communities.”

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