Without a doubt, the past year has been a nightmare, with Covid killing more than three million people worldwide and unleashing untold suffering. But this nightmare also enabled some dreamed-about conversations to actually happen, as the crisis spurred many funders and nonprofits to depart from the normal way of doing business.
The sheer enormity of the pandemic and its ripple effects made it clear to many grantmakers and grantseekers how intertwined and interdependent their roles are and that radical steps were necessary to respond quickly and effectively to the crisis. For many funders that meant loosening grant restrictions and reducing reporting requirements, while for many nonprofits it meant communicating more frequently — and more openly — with funders. A study published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly in October reported that 75.4 percent of North America’s 500 largest foundations reduced the restrictiveness of grant funds in direct response to Covid-19. Similarly, a survey of Jewish Funders Network members published in December found that 77 percent reported changing their grantmaking practices to be more responsive during the crisis.
As vaccines enable us to begin moving into a post-Covid world, it’s vital that we don’t simply return to business as usual. How can we ensure that this level of honesty and mutual support continues as we move out of Covid and towards a new reality? We believe that GrantED — a new project jointly launched by our organizations, Jewish Funders Network and UpStart, for grantmakers and grantseekers in the Jewish community — will play a key role.