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COVID-19 Concerns in Grantmaking (Session 2)

Episode 2 in a series where Grantmakers discuss how they're adjusting to COVID-19.
In this session, the following topics are being discussed:
  • What unexpected needs are you hearing about from grantees?
  • How are you supporting current grantees?
  • How are you adjusting future grantmaking? 

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Unexpected Needs

Ethan Finkelstein - Comic Relief U.S.
Because some of our grantees have had to change their guidelines to fit with quarantine, they have also had to change how they are serving the public.  We support a homeless shelter that has now been basically turned into more of a medical facility. Another one of our grantees has been supporting the food banks of America. This has become increasingly difficult due to others buying much more food from grocery stores than before. This causes less of a surplus, so less that is given to food banks.
Linda Tracy - Steele-Reese Foundation
We have grantees that work with a lot of domestic violence cases, and they have now reported an increase in domestic violence. This is caused by the restrictions that COVID-19 presents. People have now had to self-isolate with their abusers, cannot travel to safer locations, and cannot call for support due to their attacker being present. 
Steve Wick - Arrowhead Regional Arts Council 
Many of our grantees, which are artists, have now had many shows and events cancelled. This has resulted in a significant loss of income for them.
Lori Perkins - Ausherman Family Foundation
The homeless shelters in our area have some immediate problems, specifically when considering alternate arrangements for their residents. Some places, such as our YMCA, have offered space for a few people, but there are still more that need shelter.
Catherine Koenen - Gianforte Family Foundation
Schools closing down and sending the kids back home has presented a problem when considering food accessibility and domestic violence. So far, there has not been a clear solution on how to help them. On another note, our grantees have presented longer-term needs concerning utility and rent relief, decreases in operations, and decreases in fundraisers. 

Supporting Current Grantees

Jina Freiberg - Public Welfare Foundation 
As more people are being released from incarceration during COVID-19, we’ve been working to listen to our grantees on what their needs are so they can give necessary aid. We’ve also been extending deadlines and generally trying to be more flexible.
Adam McClun - Harry J. Lloyd Charitable Trust
We’ve been checking in with our grantees and seeing how they are doing. We’ve also been acknowledging that needs are going to be shifting to a more operational stand-point. Lastly, to ease the process for our grantees, we have finally switched to an electronic fund transfer.
Melissa Roccuzzo - Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Because we are delaying the start of an application for new grants, we are looking at providing extensions on grants that we’ve already given out.
Missy Belles - Whatcom Center for Philanthropy
We are reaching out to previous projects and asking that if they need to reimagine their project, that they notify us by July 30th. They then have the option of returning the funds or using them for operational expenses. We are also doing a lot of grantmaking to food banks.
Meg Hillmann- United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania 
Firstly, we are allowing a redirection of the funds we have previously given to our larger multi-year grantees, meaning they can use them for operational purposes if need be. We have also moved up the timeline of our Capital Improvement grant so we can start gathering applicants earlier than usual.

Future Grantmaking

Linsey Sauer- Russell Family Foundation
We’ve been presenting uses for some of our unallocated funds to our Board, suggesting that maybe we increase our spending during this time. We are also looking at doubling down on our grantees and extending their grants by a year or two.
James Patterson - Community Foundation of Northern Illinois
Right now, our Board of Trustees is a little hesitant to make any major changes. We’ve been asking other organizations about the possibility of conducting a survey to get specific feedback. 
Alysia Christy - Midland Area Community Foundation
We are conducting a “three-bucket” type of support in collaboration with our local United Way. Our aim is to assist in emergency operational support and also individual support for those in our community. Along with this, we have been able to carve out some funds for some 0% interest small business loans, which have been received very well.
Carolyn Wollen - Betterment Fund
When considering our upcoming grant cycle, we are in an odd position due to the fact that we had canceled our last grant cycle, so we have some pent up demand. Right now, we are considering either opening our doors a bit more and helping out those we aren’t currently funding or simply increasing our support to our current grantees.
Alma Felix - Lancaster County Community Foundation
We’re considering continuing with our current grant cycle, which started early May. We are also reaching out to some organizations and encouraging them to share any innovative ideas that they may have.
Judy Quisenberry - Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation
Our investment committee is really looking into setting up a line of credit in the future.
Rachel Sherman - Marie C. and Joseph C. Wilson Foundation
We are looking toward the future compounding issues such as trauma and housing. We have been converting a lot of our funding so that it is in a position for better use.

About the Author

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