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Grant Making is Changing: It’s About Time

By Lisa Pelofsky, Co-Founder + CEO

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Byrne Pelofsky grants team has been paying close attention to how funders are responding to the rapidly evolving needs of nonprofits. Funders are reevaluating the way they conduct grant making activities requiring our team to pivot and refocus our strategy with a number of our grant writing clients.

Maximizing Nonprofit Effectiveness

Our overall observation is that funders are embracing a more client-centered approach to grant making. Grant makers have recognized that nonprofits need resources NOW and that the process to receive those resources needs to be amended and expedited. Large-scale charitable giving foundations across the Kansas City Metro (Health Forward Foundation and the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to name a few) have taken steps to maximize nonprofit effectiveness by easing the onus placed on grantees. Ultimately, this approach enables nonprofits to be more effective in their mission and purpose.

More Flexibility

One of the most common changes in grant making has been a shift in funding from restricted asset grants to general operating grants. The flexibility provided in general operating grants allows nonprofits to use funds where they are needed most immediately. With the unpredictable nature of COVID-19, agencies are facing complex issues that impair general operations, so being nimble is a priority.

Lessening the Burden

Another change that we have identified is a shift in reporting requirements. Yes, grant reporting is still very important, but it’s also time consuming – and funders know this. In order to enhance flexibility and ensure that nonprofits are using their time most effectively, several funders have modified their reporting requirements for 2020.

Less $$ to Go Around

For all the positive changes (in my opinion) that have come about in the wake of COVID, there are a handful of funders that have reduced or completely eliminated their grantmaking for the current fiscal year. Reducing or eliminating grantmaking activities can be devastating for nonprofits and lead to program cuts, decreasing the number of clients served, and pay cuts or layoffs for nonprofit staff.

Here to Stay?

It is presumptuous to assume that these modifications to the grant making process are here to stay. We’re in an unprecedented situation, so it’s difficult to say what will stick and what will fade. After three decades of writing grants for deserving nonprofits, I am happy to see long-standing barriers to communication and collaboration finally break down. Let’s hope this is just the beginning of more equitable practices in grant making.

For more information on this subject or how Byrne Pelofsky’s grant writing team can help your organization, please contact Lisa Pelofsky at 816.237.1999 or


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