Larry Kramer has eloquently made the case that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how foundations should respond to moments of crisis. In our conversations with foundations across the country, the Council on Foundations is hearing from many who have decided to boost payout, while others tell us they need to preserve assets so they can continue to invest in solutions to the long-term challenges facing their communities and the world.

Since COVID-19 began its devastating course, foundations of all types and sizes have stepped up with new commitments of support. The philanthropic response to COVID-19 in the United States so far has totaled $6.7 billion. More than 600 community foundations across all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have mobilized more than $1.03 billion and made grants of more than $850 million.

Clearly, philanthropy is responding to this unprecedented moment with increased attention and higher levels of giving for COVID-19 response. But focusing solely on how much we are giving as a field and as individual grantmakers is not enough. We must also focus on the how of our giving, or the types of support we are providing to nonprofit organizations. Is this a moment when philanthropy will finally make strides in transforming historic funding practices that favor restricted project support and erode the effectiveness and sustainability of nonprofits in good times and bad?

Read the full article about nonprofit payouts during COVID-19 by Kathleen Enright at Stanford Social Innovation Review.