FOUNDATIONS RESPOND TO CRISIS:
A Moment of Transformation?
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.
Findings in this report are based on survey data gathered from 236 foundations — 170 of which signed the Council on Foundations’ pledge 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 in July and August 2020.)
This study is the first 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.
The Ford Foundation provided funding to support this research, along with Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Raikes Foundation, Weingart Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.