Nonprofits and funders alike have long called on foundations to be more flexible and responsive; to provide more unrestricted funding; to reduce what they ask of grantees; and to build stronger, more trusting relationships with grantees. These calls for change have only intensified in response to 2020’s crises.

In the new report CEP is releasing today, titled Foundations Respond to Crisis: Towards Greater Flexibility and Responsiveness?, we explore the extent to which foundation leaders say they are making changes across these dimensions. This is the final report in our three-part series about how foundations are responding to 2020’s crises.

All of the foundation leaders we interviewed said that this year’s crises have compelled them to reevaluate their overall strategies and grantmaking approaches, as well as their administrative processes. Indeed, most foundations say they have become more flexible and responsive. Notably, these are new practices for more than half of those we surveyed.

More specifically, we learned:

  • Almost all surveyed foundation leaders are loosening or eliminating restrictions on existing grants, across most or all of their program
  • Three-quarters of survey respondents report that their foundation is providing more unrestricted grant dollars now than they were before the pandemic.
  • Almost all surveyed foundation leaders are reducing what is asked of grantees, across most or all of their program areas.
  • Among foundation leaders we interviewed, about 40 percent report being more focused on the need to build trust, listen, understand, and work in deep partnership with grantees.

Read the full article about flexibility and responsiveness by Naomi Orensten at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.