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Top Foundations Pledge Flexible Funding to Grantees in Wake of COVID-19 Crisis

This post originally appeared on the Council on Foundations’ website. Click here to read the original post by Nicole Forman.

New York, March 19, 2020 — More than 40 major US-based and international foundations announced today to pledge their commitment to more flexible funding to help grantee partners meet emergency needs prompted by the COVID-19 crisis. Signatories include The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Seattle Foundation, and Robert Sterling Clark and Skillman Foundations among many other leaders around the country dedicated to advancing social change and supporting vulnerable populations.

The pledge—spearheaded by the Ford Foundation, informed by conversations with the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project and in partnership with the Council on Foundations—is a call to action to philanthropies everywhere to address the unanticipated effects of this global crisis as its social and economic implications unfold, so grantees can move quickly to serve the communities most impacted. Funders have signed on to a comprehensive list of commitments to support organizations during this critical time, which include loosening or eliminating restrictions on current grants, contributing to community-based emergency response funds, and engaging with grantee partners to generate thoughtful and immediate responses that will serve affected communities.

“As we experience this new reality, alongside partners and allies around the world, we must remember the remarkable impact we can make by working together,” said Hilary Pennington, executive vice president of programs at the Ford Foundation. “Now, more than ever, we must join forces in a commitment to best serve our grantees, who are supporting communities on the frontlines of this global pandemic, with flexibility and resources however we can. The Ford Foundation is proud to take this pledge and we encourage our peer institutions to sign on, so our nonprofit partners can continue to propel their critical work forward.”

Kathleen Enright, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations said, “One of philanthropy’s key strengths is its ability to pivot and adapt as circumstances require. That flexibility is needed now more than ever. The Council on Foundations is committed to supporting our members and the philanthropic sector as a whole as we make important changes to serve communities and the greater good.”

Pia Infante, steering committee chair of the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project explained, “The reason a trust-based approach works in this short-term, emergency frame is because it works for the long term. When we deeply resource our leaders, organizations, and movements, we enable the adaptivity necessary in the chaotic, complex times we are living. It may have taken a global pandemic for some philanthropies to let go of restrictions, arduous processes, and exacting expectations of already overburdened nonprofits, but let’s hope one benefit is that we now jettison all that no longer serves the greater good.”

“The strength of our organizations and communities is best demonstrated by how we come together,” Tonya Allen, president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation, said. “This pledge is a way for those who lead philanthropic organizations to expand our privileges to our nonprofit partners, the real heroes working on the ground, able to illuminate emerging hardships and best ways to address them.”

Funders interested in joining can read the full pledge below and sign on at

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