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Foundations Respond to Crisis: Lasting Change?

November 29, 2021

Philanthropic and nonprofit leaders have called for changes in foundation practice for decades, asking funders to, for example, provide more flexible and unrestricted funding; streamline and simplify processes; listen to, trust, and support their grantees; and pursue racial equity and racial justice.But there had been little evidence of change until the spring of 2020, when many foundations shifted their practices as the scale of the COVID-19 crisis became clear. In a series of three reports released late last year by CEP, we found that foundations made many changes to their practices, such as providing more unrestricted support and streamlining processes. In addition, many foundations reported providing new support to lower-income, Black, or Latino communities, and to organizations created and led by people from the communities most affected by systemic inequities.Since then, CEP has collected new survey and interview data from foundation and nonprofit leaders to examine whether these changes continued into 2021 and whether they will continue in the future.

Persevering Through Crisis: The State of Nonprofits

June 1, 2021

Based on a national survey of nonprofit leaders conducted in February 2021, Persevering through Crisis: The State of Nonprofits sheds light on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nonprofits, how funders have stepped up, and how foundations have been more flexible, responsive, and communicative with grantees—but less so with grantee organizations led by women or serving certain communities of color.Findings are based on survey responses from 163 participants in CEP's Grantee Voice panel, a national sample of CEOs from nonprofit, grant-seeking organizations that receive at least one grant from foundations giving $5 million or more annually.

Surdna Foundation 2020 Grantee Perception Report

April 21, 2021

In late 2020, the CEP asked approximately 300 Surdna and Andrus Family Fund grantee organizations to participate in an independent, confidential survey. Fifty-two percent of grantees completed the survey, which CEP then analyzed and prepared as a Grantee Perception Report comparing our results to prior years and a larger set of foundations.We want to thank everyone who completed the survey amid a pandemic and the 2020 presidential election. Its findings show significant improvements in some areas and new challenges in others.

OVERLOOKED: Foundation Support for Native American Leaders and Communities

March 1, 2021

Recent years have seen increased attention from philanthropic leaders to questions about race, systemic racism, and systemic inequities. This increased attention was heightened by the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing inequities and the national protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by police. Since early 2020, some foundations have made greater efforts to address systemic inequities by increasing their funding to nonprofits serving communities of color. More than 40 percent of foundations report increasing their funding to nonprofits serving Black communities, and a little more than a quarter report doing so for nonprofits serving Latino communities. However, other communities affected by systemic inequities, including Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and Native American communities, appear to have been overlooked. These communities have not received much increased support from foundations during the same period. Across four research studies the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) has conducted in the past two years, we've noticed two concerning trends emerge for AAPI and Native American nonprofit leaders and communities (trends that we do not see for nonprofit leaders and communities of other races/ethnicities):1. AAPI and Native American nonprofit leaders report having less positive experiences with their foundation funders than nonprofit leaders of other races/ethnicities. This has been the case during, as well as prior to, the pandemic.2. Despite the significant challenges facing AAPI and Native American people, most foundations continue to overlook nonprofits that serve these communities.We are sharing these results in a two-part series. The first report in the series focuses on findings about AAPI communities and leaders. This second report focuses on findings about Native American communities and leaders. Both reports include stories of nonprofit leaders from these communities, in their own words.

Foundations Respond to Crisis: Toward Equity?

December 9, 2020

The disproportionate public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on certain communities, along with nationwide protests against police violence and racial injustice, have intensified the calls for foundations to focus on equity and reckon with anti-Black racism in a deeper way than they had before. To what extent have staffed foundations changed their practices in 2020 in response to this push for substantial shifts in how philanthropy approaches its work?CEP surveyed and interviewed foundation leaders to find out. Foundations Respond to Crisis: Toward Equity? reveals that almost all foundations participating in CEP's study report placing new, or more, focus on supporting Black, Latino, and lower-income communities; and most foundation leaders say they are reckoning with racism and paying greater attention to racial equity in their work. However, there remains still significant room for further progress, and it remains to be seen how deep and sustained this new focus will be.

Foundations Respond to Crisis: Toward Greater Flexibility and Responsiveness?

December 1, 2020

Nonprofits and funders alike have long called on foundations to be more flexible and responsive, to provide more unrestricted funding, to reduce what they ask of grantees, and to build more trusting relationships. In 2020, these calls for change only intensified in a time of immense challenge for nonprofits and the people and communities they serve.Have foundations responded to these calls with newfound urgency? And if so, is that response merely a momentary adjustment? Or will the crises of 2020 spur substantive, long-term change in how funders approach their work?CEP surveyed and interviewed foundation leaders to find out. Foundations Respond to Crisis: Toward Greater Flexibility and Responsiveness? reveals that foundations say they are loosening grant restrictions, providing more unrestricted funding, and reducing what they ask of grantees. Many plan to continue these practices in the future, though to a lesser degree than during their pandemic response.Findings in this report are based on survey data gathered from 236 foundations — 170 of which signed the pledge hosted by the Council on Foundations to act urgently in response to COVID-19, and 66 of which had not — as well as in-depth interviews with leaders of 41 foundations that signed the pledge. All data was collected between June and August 2020.This study is the final in a series of three reports from CEP examining the extent to which staffed foundations have changed their practices in response to calls for change to meet the unprecedented challenges of 2020.

Foundations Respond to Crisis: A Moment of Transformation?

November 1, 2020

Amid the compounded crises of COVID-19 and the long-standing structural inequities and racism the pandemic is exacerbating, the myriad calls for funders to make fundamental changes in how they approach their work have grown in number and intensity. How are foundations responding to 2020's unprecedented challenges? What high-level changes in practice are they making — and will these changes be for the long term?CEP turned to foundation leaders for answers to these pressing questions. As Foundations Respond to Crisis: A Moment of Transformation? shows, foundation leaders are reevaluating and making significant changes to their practices in 2020 — including loosening or eliminating grant restrictions, increasing their spending levels, and placing a newfound emphasis on listening to grantees and the communities they serve.

Making the Case: Foundation Leaders on the Importance of Multiyear General Operating Support

October 20, 2020

This companion piece to New Attitudes, Old Practices: The Provision of Multiyear General Operating Support features profiles of five of the 43 foundations that participated in interviews with CEP for that research: the California Wellness Foundation, the Claneil Foundation, Foundation for a Just Society, the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.These five foundations — which represent a range of geographies, size, and foundation type — all provide more multiyear general operating support (GOS) than typical, have significantly increased the proportion of grantees receiving multiyear GOS over time, or both, as identified using data from the more than 300 foundations that have used CEP's Grantee Perception Report (GPR).In these five profiles, foundation leaders share, in their own words, why they provide multiyear GOS, how considerations of equity fit into their decision-making about which grantees receive this support, any advice they would share with their peer foundations, and more. CEP's goal is for these profiles to provide examples for foundations that are thinking about starting to provide or increasing their provision of multiyear GOS.

Making it Happen: A Conversation Guide

October 1, 2020

This companion piece to New Attitudes, Old Practices: The Provision of Multiyear General Operating Support provides resources for foundation leaders and boards seeking to start providing, or provide more, multiyear general operating support (GOS) grants. It shares insights and suggestions from leaders whose foundations provide more multiyear GOS than typical, as well as questions to guide foundation discussions.

New Attitudes, Old Practices: The Provision of Multiyear General Operating Support

October 1, 2020

New Attitudes, Old Practices: The Provision of Multiyear General Operating Support examines the state of practice in philanthropy regarding multiyear general operating support (GOS). Findings of this study reveal a sobering disconnect between attitudes of foundation leaders and the experience of nonprofits, as well as a similar disconnect between the attitudes of foundation CEOs themselves and their foundations' practices.

Funder Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic

June 1, 2020

Based on a nationally representative survey of nonprofit leaders in May 2020, Funder Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic sheds light on which organizations face the toughest challenges, what is most needed from funders, and what differences in experience are emerging based on characteristics such as organization type and gender of nonprofit leaders.The data in this report also reveals what nonprofits have found to be most helpful from institutional foundations and individual donors, respectively, as well as what they need most from both groups in the current moment.Findings are based on survey responses from 172 participants in CEP's Grantee Voice Panel, a national sample of CEOs from nonprofit, grant-seeking organizations that receive at least one grant from foundations giving $5 million or more annually.

Grantee and Applicant Perception Report: Mama Cash

April 1, 2020

Earlier this year, we conducted our biennial grantee partner and applicant perception survey through the Center of Effective Philanthropy (CEP). CEP has surveyed more than 50,000 grantee partners of more than 300 funders to build a dataset that allows foundations to assess their performance, as viewed by grantee partners, on a comparative basis.Tracking, monitoring, reviewing and improving our grantmaking and accompaniment processes is very important to Mama Cash. We want to remain accountable to the movements we work with and for. As Mama Cash is becoming a participatory grantmaker for all our funds from 2021, institutionalising principles and processes of transparency and accountability have become even more important than they already were.