[UPDATE: November 16, 2020]

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been important moves by some of the nation’s foundations to adapt and respond to the enormous needs of their grantees.  

A mid-July survey by the Council of Foundations indicates that “…the majority of foundations have yet to take significant steps to share power.” Although about 60% of respondents “had increased or were planning to increase their 2020 grantmaking beyond previously budgeted levels,…” many of them “indicated that they were hesitant to give more now as it might affect their ability to support their mission in the future….” 

Other surveys suggest more progress is being made. The jury is still out (while data is collected) about how much these grantmakers have embraced change or are willing to do it for the foreseeable future – or permanently.


[UPDATE: May 26, 2020]

Now, over two months into the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, many foundations appear to be stepping up to the plate to increase their grant-making and to relax reporting and compliance rules.

This temporary change may herald a more permanent reevaluation of foundation grant practices to reflect a movement that was beginning to gain steam pre-pandemic: that is, “participatory grantmaking.”


[April 3, 2020]

For some time, certain philanthropy thought leaders have advocated for significant changes in how the nation’s foundations structure and operate their grant programs.

As the enormity of the pandemic calamity about to sweep our nation became evident, a coalition of major foundations emerged ready to, at least temporarily, ease up grant restrictions and procedures. So far, over 500 foundations have signed a pledge to “stop conducting business as usual with their grantees.”

Among the most significant of the eight promises is “eliminating restrictions on current grants, including turning project-based grants to unrestricted support, accelerating payment schedules, and not holding grantees liable for missed deadlines or canceled events.

This is welcome news for current recipients but also may be a harbinger of future – more permanent – changes to a “trust-based philanthropy.


Contact FPLG (619) 780.3839

… [T]he study looked at changes in practice in the areas of resources, priorities, and internal operations and found that the majority of foundations have yet to take significant steps to share power.

— Council of Foundations (9/21/20)

There is no question that grants management is undergoing a rapid and profound transformation, with widespread efforts to adapt quickly and effectively; and a commitment to leading organizational efforts to shift practices to be more responsive and flexible.

— Elly Davis (8/20/20)

…[F]or many nonprofits, the increase in flexibility has been both real and highly valuable. A key challenge going forward is to make sure that these new, more flexible philanthropic practices become embedded in the field, meaning that if times remain rough, foundation support will continue to be there—even if the stock market falters. .

— Carrie Collins-Fadell (6/20/20)

The public-health and economic crises posed by the coronavirus present grant makers with an urgent opportunity to loosen and eliminate restrictions on current grants — to help grantees who are serving communities on the front lines of this pandemic. And while flexible funding is coming into view as an effective tool during a time of emergency, committing to it now can help build powerful trust between foundations and grantees for the long term.

— Kathy Reich, Ford Foundation (4/30/20)

In times of crisis, trust and collaboration are essential. We urge the philanthropic community to consider how a trust-based approach can be a particularly effective way to support nonprofit partners in concrete, meaningful ways.

— Shaadi Salehy, Trust-Based Philanthropy Project (3/17/20)



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