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How We’ve Changed Our Grantmaking During the Pandemic

Going into our third year with COVID, RSF Foundation has learned a lot from nonprofits about how they’ve had to adapt to meet the needs of the community, changing county and state guidelines, and fundraising challenges. Here are some of the biggest lessons we’ve learned and how we’ve adapted our own grantmaking to support them.


What we’ve learned: Nonprofit staff is stretched even more thin than pre-pandemic days.

Just like other businesses effected by COVID, nonprofits are navigating through staffing challenges. Anyone who has worked with a nonprofit knows that staff often wear many hats and with the impact of the pandemic, this has only become even more true.

How we’ve responded: We’ve streamlined applications and reporting for funding to be less labor intensive and easier for nonprofit staff to complete. We’re still holding nonprofits to our high standard of evaluation and reporting, however where we’ve found duplicate information, we’ve updated our requirements. We want our community partners succeed and that means giving them more time to focus on their services and less time on paperwork.


What we’ve learned: Many nonprofits have had to scale back their budgets since the beginning of the pandemic.

Some nonprofits have had to cut staff and programs in the last couple of years. Some have also added more programs or are now serving even more community members because of the pandemic.

How we’ve responded: When possible, we try to put as few limitations on our grantmaking as possible. Unrestricted gifts allow the nonprofit to decide where the funding the most needed and make time sensitive decisions on how to best help the community.



What we’ve learned: We’re stronger together.

As funders and nonprofits, there is a lot to gain through collaboration.

How we’ve responded: RSF Foundation has always believed that we’re stronger when we are together, and we’ve seen the success of collaborative grantmaking during the pandemic. In March 2020, RSF Foundation partnered with Coastal Community Foundation and Leichtag Foundation to create the North County COVID19 Response Fund. As of the December 2021, the fund has awarded 67 grants totaling $1,148,750, raised over $1,159,200 from donors, including from the three foundations, and leveraged an additional $720,000+ for COVID related needs from other donors. Learn more about the fund here.


What we’ve learned: Our network of supporters want to help.

Philanthropists and community members are extremely generous and want to help others when they can.

How we’ve responded: We’ve been facilitating more introductions between partners and nonprofits to build connections. Nonprofits benefit not only from our funding but also our time, expertise, and contacts. By connecting like-minded partners, we can help nonprofits in creative ways that go beyond funding.



If you’re interested in learning more about how you can become a collaborative grantmaker, contact staff.