COVID-19 presents the opportunity for grantmakers to practice trust-based philanthropy. Here are nine tips to help you get started.
Grantmakers and funders have a unique role to play in the support of their grantee community during the COVID-19 crisis.
As grantees make difficult sacrifices to heroically respond to their communities, what they need from us—now more than ever—is trust and flexibility. As funders, we must trust organizations to move their important work forward by providing the flexibility they need to make the best decisions for the communities they serve.
Here are nine coronavirus grantmaking tips to support grantee needs both responsibly and empathetically during a global crisis:
1. Acknowledge that everyone is feeling the impact.
This global crisis is affecting grantees in many ways and will continue to over the coming weeks and months. Be patient and reduce expectations around response times, for example.
2. Change restricted grants to unrestricted general operating grants.
This will give your grantees maximum flexibility to respond to the crisis.
3. Commit to shifting as many grants as possible into multi-year grants.
COVID-19 will have ripple effects on vulnerable populations for months and years to come. Having funding secured over a longer period will allow grantees to plan responsibly.
4. Streamline as much as possible.
Waive, condense, or amend application paperwork and review processes to get funds on the ground faster.
5. Postpone or waive demands on grantees.
Apply this thinking to reporting requirements, site visits, and other demands on time, including new surveys. Don’t burden grantees with activities that take time away from their program implementation; assume they’ve been hit hard and they need your flexible, trust-based support.
6. Be transparent, proactive, and responsive in communications with grantees.
Let grantees know that grantmakers are receptive to their needs and their feedback —and be genuinely receptive to their feedback. Proactively provide helpful information without demanding too much of grantees’ time.
7. Be flexible in grantmaking.
You can do so by providing extensions, allowing project scope changes, and reallocating funding as needed. Grantees’ needs and ability to execute their programs will change as the situation evolves.
8. Trust your grantees.
You’ve already done your due diligence, and you chose your grantees for reasons that are already clear to your organization. Don’t ask anyone to jump through new hoops now.
9. Let your grantees lead.
Trust that grantees know what their communities need right now better than anyone else.
We also encourage you to look to your peers during this time to collaborate, share best practices, get new ideas, and help create a collective industry effort that recognizes organizations’ ever-changing needs during this time. Here are some great resources helping to inform the recommendations above:
Council on Foundations
Elmina B. Sewall Foundation
Kathleen Kelly Janus, Senior Advisor on Social Innovation to California Governor Gavin Newsom
Philanthropy New York
Trust-Based Philanthropy Project
Learn more about how GlobalGiving can support your disaster grantmaking and coronavirus response strategy.
Featured Photo: Promote Healthy Aging in Finland by International Blue Cross