Most foundations have relaxed reporting requirements for charities, poll finds

16 Apr 2020 News

One in six foundations are changing all of their day-to-day activities in response to the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey by the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF).

Some 16% of respondents said they have overhauled the way they worked every day to try and address the pandemic, and a further 25% said they have made major changes to their operations. Only 5% said they have not made any changes at all.

Over 70% said that they are interested in collaborating more with other foundations to tackle the impact of the crisis, either by pooling resources or combining funding processes. ACF reports that some foundations are waiting for clear proposals about how joint working would operate in practice before committing to greater collaboration.

The results come from a survey of 56 foundations, which was conducted online and concluded last week.

More flexible reporting

The most widely adopted change was to increase flexibility around reporting and payment schedules for charities, with around 90% of the respondents saying that they have done this.

More than 60% also said that they are planning to establish a new fund or realign some of their existing funding to focus on people and causes impacted by the crisis.

The approach to relaxing funding restrictions was more mixed. Around four in 10 foundations said they are considering converting restricted funding into unrestricted funding, while five in 10 said they are not.

ACF quoted one foundation as saying that, in light of the coronavirus crisis, it has “suspended all formal reporting, in favour of picking up the phone and checking in with our partners [to see] how they are doing, how we can help and what they need from us”.

ACF: Foundations need to adapt to changing society

Richard Hebditch, director of external affairs at ACF, said: "What's particularly encouraging is how quickly foundations have moved to take account of the crisis. Nearly all have adapted how they work and, most importantly, are talking to grantees and other partners about how they can help at this time. 

"We're keen now to explore how foundations can best work after the initial reaction. Whilst there is still much uncertainty, foundations are starting to think about the longer-term impacts of the pandemic and the lockdown.

“Foundations are working to keep charitable services going at the moment and respond to immediate need, but a discussion is also needed about how society and the economy will change and the new needs that will arise as a result."

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