SoCal grantmakers make changes to address COVID-19 crisis

SoCal grantmakers make changes to address COVID-19 crisis

Grantmakers in Southern California are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by shifting their grantmaking priorities and providing greater flexibility to grantees, a report from Community Works Consulting finds.

Based on a survey of a hundred and eleven grantmaking institutions, individual donors, donor-advised fund (DAF) account holders, and wealth advisors, the report, New Challenges, Greater Callings: Exploring the Needs of Philanthropy in Times of Change (25 pages, PDF), found that nearly two-thirds of institutional grantmakers planned to reallocate some (41 percent), most (19 percent), or all (2 percent) of their grantmaking dollars to COVID-19 response efforts. In addition, at least half of grantmaking institutions indicated they were willing to extend grant deadlines (63 percent), provide emergency funding (62 percent), shorten or streamline their application processes (56 percent), and/or shift program grant dollars to general operating support (50 percent), while smaller percentages were willing to provide technical assistance (28 percent) and/or adjust the geographical focus (4 percent) of their grantmaking. 

At the same time, the survey found differences in foundation leaders' and staff's perception of internal needs, with staff more likely than leadership to rate advocacy training, executive and staff coaching, research, strategic planning, and understanding COVID-19 response models as "most important," while leadership were more likely than staff to rate human resources practices and mental health strategies as "most important." Roughly the same percentage of leader and staff rated development and fundraising and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in grantmaking "most important."

In addition, a slight majority (56 percent) of individual donors, DAF account holders, and wealth managers and advisors who responded to the survey said they were making no changes to their giving, while 44 percent said they were shifting some of their giving to  emergency funding, 22 percent were looking at supporting different types of organizations, and 11 percent were adjusting their geographic focus. While none of the individual respondents said they had moved to provide general operating support, 56 percent said they were thinking about providing unrestricted grant support, and some indicated a willingness to provide economic-impact readiness (33 percent) support, support for technology upgrades (22 percent), and/or support for COVID-related health services (22 percent).

"Though much has been examined regarding philanthropy's response to supporting nonprofit organizations and communities served," said James E. Herr, a philanthropy services consultant to CWC and co-author of the report, "we still see gaps in our understanding about the internal needs of philanthropy during a crisis of this nature."

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"New Challenges, Greater Callings: Exploring the Needs of Philanthropy in Times of Change." Community Works Consulting report 09/24/2020. "COVID-19 crisis challenges Southern California philanthropy to make changes." Community Works Consulting press release 09/24/2020.