The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) has recently published a research report titled “Before and After 2020: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed Nonprofit Experiences with Funders,”. The report focuses on discussing the changes in philanthropic practices in the United States before and after the COVID-19 pandemic in response to the evolving needs of nonprofit organizations. 

The study explores how funders responded to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the period following the murder of George Floyd. The CEP examined the reactions of funders and the changes they made in their practices to support grantees and communities. The study assessed whether these changes were sustained and examined the nonprofit experience with funders in a post-pandemic context. 

The research is based on data collected through CEP’s Grantee Perception Report (GPR) process, which gathers confidential feedback from nonprofit grantees. The sample includes data from 61 funders based in the United States that commissioned GPRs in both the pre-2020 and 2021-2022 periods. 

Key Findings: 

Streamlining Processes: Funders streamlined their grant application and reporting processes to reduce the burden on grantees. Nonprofits reported spending 25% less time on the proposal process during the pandemic. The proposal process was also found to be more helpful in strengthening the efforts funded by the grant. 

Unrestricted Support: Funders provided a higher proportion of unrestricted support during the pandemic. The average proportion of grantees receiving general operating support (GOS) increased slightly from 23% to 30%. This increase in unrestricted support is larger than historical patterns observed among GPR users. 

The report highlights case examples of funders that successfully simplified their processes and increased the provision of general operating support. These funders included The Grove Foundation, Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, The Libra Foundation, and Global Fund for Children. These funders shared their motivations for making these changes and the positive impacts on their grantee partners, process simplification being the overarching response in.  
Michael Parsons of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth Director of Programs commented  “As a funder, one of our priorities is to make it easy for our grantees to do their job. If it’s a choice between making a difference by working with kids or doing paperwork, we would rather them be in the field working with kids.” 
The data suggests that funders made sustained efforts to support nonprofits by streamlining and simplifying processes and providing more unrestricted support. The report acknowledges that further research is needed to fully understand the lasting impact of these changes on philanthropic practices. 
For more information, the full report authored by Katarina Malmgren and published by the Center for Effective Philanthropy can be found here.