Why, given their benefits, do so few foundations provide Multi-Year General Operating Support (GOS) grants? This study aims to answer that as well as the following related questions:
- What benefits do multiyear GOS grants have for nonprofit organizations?
- How many foundations are providing multiyear GOS, and to how many of the nonprofits they support?
- How do foundations make decisions about whether to provide multiyear general operating support?
- What are the attitudes of foundation boards, CEOs, and program officers toward the provision of multiyear GOS?
- What barriers are preventing foundations from providing more multiyear GOS?
- How do foundations that give more multiyear GOS than is typical think about impact?
All data collection for this study occurred in late 2019 and early 2020, before COVID-19 became a global
pandemic. Since that crisis was recognized globally in March, a number of foundations have pledged to
follow certain practices, including seeking to provide as much GOS as possible. CEP is undertaking a separate
study, also supported by the Ford Foundation, to track whether and how practices have changed since the
beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results in this report provide a crucial baseline for attitudes and
practices before the crisis.
“The findings reveal a sobering disconnect between attitudes of foundation leaders and the experience of
nonprofits. Moreover, we found a similar disconnect between the attitudes of foundation CEOs themselves
and their foundations’ practices. While we sought to understand what is getting in the way of the provision
of multiyear GOS, we were unable to identify a clear theme or major barrier. We are left to conclude that
a majority of foundation leaders simply have not felt it a fit with their approach or important enough to
prioritize shifting their funding practices.”