How the 10 Biggest Foundations Changed in a Year of Covid — and What’s Next

Changes made by many of the nation’s largest foundations on an emergency basis to give nonprofits more freedom during the pandemic appear unlikely to stick, with grant makers making few promises that they won’t slip back to their old ways as the impact of the virus wanes, according to a Chronicle review.

The Chronicle looked at giving by the 10 biggest foundations, which represent nearly 12 percent of all philanthropic assets. None of the foundations, except Kellogg, committed to increasing grants in 2021.

Three of the 10 foundations — Ford, Kellogg, and Open Society — joined last year with 800 other grant makers to pledge that they would shift money destined for specific nonprofit programs to general operating support so cash-strapped nonprofits could use the money as they saw fit. They promised to reduce paperwork and site visits and relax reporting on program milestones. And three of the biggest — Ford, Kellogg, and Mellon — added to their grant budgets for the next several years by issuing hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds.