When Wendo Assad, the founder of Kenya Rural Health NGO, is asked about his frustrations with donors, it is not long before he raises the hot button for charity to limit donations.
For him, the “pain point” is when the funders do not allow the investments for one project to be used for emerging needs. One of the donors, she said, funded family planning services such as birth control, but then objected to the money being used to test the same women for HIV. And some, the 43-year-old added, were reluctant to invest in the pre-COVID 19 epidemic to help her implement her viral security measures at Dandelion Africa.
“They would rather have the organization shut down, even if the funds were for essential services, than use their funds for prevention,” Assis said, adding that some limited grants even prohibit the purchase of masks for the program. “We deserve unlimited grants. We have had these conversations here and there with some financiers who give us limited funding. “Some did well, some did not.”
Unlimited funding allows organizations to use donations as much as they want. This makes the infrastructure of the organization more stable, financing the overhead costs. Advocates say it corrects donor blindness at points such as racial capital funding, builds confidence, and gives organizations the flexibility to respond to changing needs.
While Aszed receives some of these investments, most of its funding is limited to a specific donor program. The debate over these funding models has been going on for many years. But there was nothing more galvanizing in these conversations than the epidemic, to some extent, racial rallies were protested after the assassination of George F. Floyd by police.
Since last March, some 800 donors, both in the United States and abroad, have signed a pledge led by the Ford Foundation urging them to give more flexibility to their funded organizations in their response to the epidemic. Donors soon adhered to a list of new moves, including easing current gift restrictions, making new donations as unlimited as possible. Experts say it is unclear whether this practice, which is popular among grantees, will continue.
For its part, the Ford Foundation, which provides most of its investment as unlimited support, is trying to keep it that way. It announced Wednesday that it will launch the second edition of its BUILD program, a multi-year, $ 1 billion initiative aimed at providing unlimited funding to 300 organizations around the world. So far, the fund’s six-year program has provided more than $ 950 million to social justice organizations. with new investments to be made in January.
“We very much hope that the other donors who have signed the pledge will continue to do so,” said Hillary Pennington, the foundation’s executive vice president of programs, adding that “the charity needs all the encouragement and pressure it can get.”
Although infinite donations, especially donations over the years, are the holy grail of funding for major organizations, they are often difficult to obtain as donors, foundations, corporations, or benefactors tend to link their contributions to projects.
“A lot of restrictions were a way to disrupt the donation business,” said Bradford Smith, president of the charity Candid. “It was to give organizations a lot more focus on results և impact.”
Donors also limit their provision, worrying that the funds will be used to pay salaries or other expenses to “keep the business as usual.” If you talk to most donors about why they give, they will say, ‘I want to make a difference in the world.’ And I think that especially with some of the new wealth that came from charity in Silicon Valley, billionaires, other people who have made their money in technology, they kind of brought in a quasi-venture capitalist mindset where you had to be very clear. goals, very measurable indicators to be able to justify ակց communicate և measure impact. ”
But the choice between unlimited donations, the ability to measure the impact of donations, is a “false dichotomy,” says Pennington.
“And the more we can do to get out of it, the better,” he added. “There are always times when it makes sense to provide program support. But it is absolutely possible to measure the impact of these types of grants. Every organization has results that they are trying to achieve. And the funds that invest in them have results that they are trying to achieve. ”
At the moment, early figures indicate that it is uncertain whether a major shift towards unlimited humanitarian donation will continue.
The Center for Effective Charity report, released in December, surveyed nearly 240 foundations, 170 of which signed a pledge to reduce restrictions on their provision. 92% of respondents were found to have eased or eliminated current investment restrictions, 80% were making unlimited new donations as much as possible, and 90% were reducing grantees’ requirements, such as reporting requirements.
The introduction states that many point to plans to continue these changes, but to a lesser extent than during their epidemic response. “In practice, these changes have helped nonprofits overcome the high demand for their services, the need to adapt to a rapidly changing context,” said Phil Buchenan, President of the Group. “Now the question is whether these changes are a precautionary measure or will be maintained in the future, it is too early to be honest.”
Another phenomenon that could signal a shift is the significant donations of billionaire philanthropist and author Mackenzie Scott, who recently married the ex-wife of Amazon founder ff Bezos. Last year, he made nearly $ 6 billion in unlimited investments in hundreds of groups, including COVID-19 aid, racial justice and more.
Scott’s donations accounted for the bulk of the $ 20.2 billion in unrestricted investments made worldwide last year for COVID-19, according to a March study by Candid կենտրոն Disaster Humanitarian Center. The report showed that 39% of these donations are unlimited. Excluding Scott’s investments, that number is falling to 9%, which is just a small blow to the 3% in the first half of the year.
“He actually provided a lot of unlimited grants to organizations that he and his advisers had studied in depth,” Smith said. “What you can see is a more front-end approach by foundations, where they do a lot of research on the organization; the grants they provide are far less than burdened with restrictions.”
It remains to be seen whether this will happen. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Nina Blackwell, executive director of the Firelight Foundation, based in the United States and a charity for African organizations, hopes the change will continue.
“We are doing our best in charity today,” Blackwell said. “We decide what the problem is for others, what others should do about it, how things should be done, how they should be judged, how change should be measured. And we simply cannot continue to think so if we really want to be just, just, and enduring in our humanity. ”
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