Mission Focused Funding Supporting Nonprofit Sustainability in the Tumult of a Recession

Jan 28, 2013
  • Description

This report is an evaluation of The California Wellness Foundation's (TCWF) grantmaking. Past evaluations of TCWF's core operating report (COS) funding strategy demonstrated that COS has been successful in building organizational sustainability and capacity, as well as helping grantee organizations leverage funds, increase credibility, and build trust with TCWF -- but those studies took place during much better economic times. This report was prepared by Harder+Company Community Research to explore the effects of the COS funding strategies under the far more difficult economic circumstances of 2009 and 2010. Of the 581 grantee organizations with active grants in 2009 and/or 2010, 424 responded to the evaluation survey, reflecting a 73 percent response rate. Through an analysis of TCWF documents and databases, financial data, survey data, and case studies, this report seeks to answer the following evaluation questions:

  • What was the impact of the recession on TCWF grantees?
  • How were the 2009 and 2010 TCWF COS grants used?
  • What was the impact of the 2009 and 2010 COS grants on organizations?
By evaluating the COS grants that were active in 2009 and 2010 -- years that include the official end of the recession and its immediate aftermath -- we were able to identify the effects of this type of funding during a period of major financial strain for most nonprofits. This is a unique opportunity to learn about COS that could inform funding practices now and into the future. The findings from this evaluation reveal that in the midst of the recession, TCWF has supported and even strengthened organizations in a variety of important -- and even surprising --ways. This summary highlights key findings, while the full report provides further detail.