If you are like most of my philanthropic clients, when COVID-19 hit, you jumped into action. You heroically provided additional funding to grantees, created or joined local crisis response funds to coordinate resources, extended grant deadlines, eliminated funding restrictions, and created free virtual trainings to help nonprofits, all while embracing new technology and learning to work remotely. Many of you accomplished this by working long hours each week.
Then, a collective moment of dramatic awakening to police brutality and institutional racism required additional engagement critical to the Black Lives Matter movement. For those already embracing your equity and anti-racism work, it was a chance to direct further attention and resources to this critical work.
But now, many funders finding themselves in an awkward situation. They’ve intentionally allocated all or most of their annual grant budget to meet pressing needs like saving lives, preventing economic devastation, and creating systems change. But they still have many months left in their fiscal year. Their primary tool – grant funding – is gone.
What to do? The good news is there are many things you can still do to help nonprofits. And you probably have more time to do them, now that you won’t be spending it preparing grant summaries and board dockets. So, follow the “I Have No More Grant Budget” Playbook:
1. Find more money.
Get a little creative and brainstorm ways you can find additional funds. Can you increase your payout rate or allocation this year? Or can you create innovative ways to increase your payout? Do you have relationships with any of the 90 percent of billionaires who haven’t yet donated in response to the pandemic?
2. Ask your grantees what they need. Then listen.
In 2020, when money is scarce and we urgently need to disrupt power dynamics, it’s the perfect time for funders to ask, “Are we giving nonprofits the support they need?” While it might feel like the wrong question, when you have no more dollars to give, it’s a way to increase abundance in your work. In reality, your grantees might not think you are supporting their work as much as you believe you are.
3. Remember that you are more than money.
You don’t want to saddle your nonprofits with “help” that isn’t helpful, or they feel obliged to take it because you are their funder. Use the list generated above as a punch list based on your grantees’ actual needs.
See if there are themes that emerge among a group of grantees who have the same need. Maybe they need creative ideas for virtual fundraising events, and you could bring in an expert to help them.
You could also match needs to talents in your organization or community.
4. Become a better version of yourself.
Philanthropies have a tremendous opportunity to seize today’s crises as an opportunity to improve. One area ripe for improvement is likely your strategy. This pandemic has shown us the futility of spending one year to create a three-year strategic plan. In a world where disruption and volatility are the status quo, the strategy must be easily adaptable to achieve positive social change. More than ever, philanthropists must be aware of the changing environment in which they operate, and the implications of their actions on others. There’s no time like the present to create a clear decision-making road map of the actions you need to take to move from where you are today to where you want to be in 12 months.
Read the full article about the “I Have No More Grant Budget” playbook by Kris Putnam-Walkerly at Putnam Consulting Group.
If you are looking for more articles and resources for Philanthropy, take a look at these Giving Compass selections related to impact giving and Philanthropy.
Looking for a way to get involved?
A good way to complement your interest in COVID-19 is to connect with others. Check out these events, galas, conferences or volunteering opportunities related to COVID-19.
Are you ready to give?
If you are ready to take action and invest in causes for COVID-19, check out these Giving Funds, Charitable Organizations and Projects related to COVID-19.