It’s Not All Bad: Grantmaking Opportunities During the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has created an uncertain future for many in the nonprofit community. Below, Mary Coleman shares some thoughts from Voqal’s grant team on how funders can best help organizations adapt to the changing times.

When we rang in 2020, many of us had one thing on our mind: November 3. However, the recent pandemic has widened that scope. In the last three years, too many communities have faced sustained threats to their livelihoods, cultural practices, and humanity. We are ready to move on from this era to one that begins centering people and places over individual gains.

Since early March, Voqal has had to set aside its assumptions and ego more than ever to open our ears and hearts to those feeling the brunt of the pandemic. While there are certainly many challenges for the communities we support and champion, there are also opportunities to innovate and adapt in ways that will strengthen civic engagement and democratic processes for years to come.

If those closest to the pandemic’s impact can focus on the opportunities presented by this moment, how can Voqal and its peer funders also capitalize to transform philanthropy for the 21st century as we prepare to face continued threats to globalization, civil rights, and health and safety?

Fortunately, there are a few grantmaking opportunities of particular interest.

General Operating Support
This pandemic emphasizes the need for nonprofits to have resources that allow for quick operational and programming adaption for circumstances beyond their control. General operating support provides immediate stability and flexibility compared to project-based grants.

Upgraded Technology and Tools 
Whether software subscriptions, updated equipment, or training, nonprofits need access to modern tools and resources that facilitate remote engagement for staff and volunteers.

Digital Engagement is Here to Stay
Nonprofits seek to continue the transition and upgrade to digital, data, text, relational, and online communications for programs, volunteer management, and fundraising.

Disaster Planning Takes Stage
Nonprofits have always understood the need for emergency contingency plans, but rarely have the time or resources to put such plans together. Now is the time to provide resources for nonprofits to develop these plans so the next crisis sees a more streamlined transition.

Multi-Year Commitments
This pandemic caught most off-guard, shaking up forecasting and operations for weeks, months, and years to come. Without year-to-year commitments, nonprofits that rely on donations, even if from a diversified mix, can never accurately plan for future disruptions or opportunities. Now is the time for funders to adjust internal processes to provide reliable funding, offering nonprofits the confidence and peace of mind the funders themselves often enjoy.

Voqal is considering how to leverage and incorporate these practices into its own operations and future grantmaking. Some of our peers have responded to this crisis in meaningful and revolutionary ways, and Voqal looks forward to doing its part to continue this philanthropic trajectory.