Advice to Funders in the Covid-19 Era
For people born after November 23, 1963, 9/11 was an emotional and psychological shock unlike any we had experienced. The financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed were a shock of a different kind: slower, murkier, more abstract — until, that is, people we knew and loved started to lose their jobs. In the weeks and months that followed, I wrote a number of posts for PhilanTopic (here, here, and here) aimed at helping my social sector colleagues navigate the difficult funding environment in which we suddenly found ourselves.
The coronavirus pandemic is a crisis of a different sort — both a biological threat as well as a threat to our economic security, stunning in its scope and the rapidity with which it has unfolded. In other words, existential.
Given the seriousness of the threat and the urgent need for a rapid, coordinated response, I offer these suggestions, with humility and deep respect, to my colleagues in the funder community.
- Be flexible with your grant support.
- Endeavor to fast track your grants.
- Use community-based vendors whenever possible.
- Facilitate online meetups for grantees where they can air their concerns and share best practices and resources.
- Do not assume that your current grants are sufficient to cover the extraordinary demand, costs, and burdens that many nonprofits will be faced with over the coming months.
- Allow grantees to alter the budget terms of grants they have already received so as to maximize their flexibility.
- Be prepared to make long-term commitments and be in it for the long haul.
- Understand that while the virus is first and foremost a public health emergency, its impact will extend to a host of other areas.
- Do your utmost to support local, culturally competent organizations, which are often the first point of access for at-risk individuals and groups.
- Remember the bigger picture and be generous with grantees with respect to your reporting requirements.