Giving Compass' Take:

• Bradford K. Smith, president of Candid, notes that despite foundations being able to provide nonprofits with flexible capital during the pandemic, there is still a knowledge gap regarding what organizations genuinely need. 

• Smith thinks this is because foundations do not bring in enough nonprofit experience in-house to help manage grants and spending. How can recruitment within these institutions improve to garner nonprofit talent?

• Read how funders can support nonprofits during this time. 

With close to 100,000 active foundations and collective annual giving of nearly $87 billion, America has the largest philanthropic sector in the world. While that pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars the federal government and Federal Reserve are pumping into the economy, it can be a lifeline to nonprofits, many of which have precious little cash to burn and are caught in the crossfire of overwhelming demand and an existential struggle for their own survival.

So, one answer to the question posed by the title of this piece is a resounding "yes." Foundations have a lot of what nonprofits need most right now, namely money. Candid research tells us that, even when faced with volatile markets, foundations, on the whole, step up during recessions and go beyond their required minimum payout rate of 5 percent. Indeed, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, foundations have been quick to throw out a lifeline. A tracking site created by Candid has already logged $6.7 billion in foundation grants globally and a rapidly growing list of coronavirus relief funds and requests for proposals.

But while some foundations have learned to move money swiftly in times of need, many still are hampered by a critical talent gap when it comes to helping their nonprofit partners survive a crisis like the spread of Sars-CoV-2. In larger staffed foundations, the recommendations on how to spend grant budgets almost always originate with program officers. Recruited for their expertise in a given field, foundation program officers typically have training in the social sciences, business, or law. Some are of a more scholarly bent, others are activists at heart, but most have one thing in common: they have never actually had the experience of running a nonprofit organization.

Read the full article about funders helping nonprofits survive the pandemic by Bradford K. Smith at PhilanTopic.