GIH continues to track health philanthropy’s response to COVID-19. This blog post presents the results of our July 2020 COVID-19 Quick Poll on general operating support for current grantees and other nonprofits. Results of the June 2020 Quick Poll on health foundation contributions to pooled coronavirus relief and/or recovery funds can be found here.

The coronavirus pandemic is taking a serious toll on nonprofits’ ability to achieve their missions. In a recent survey by the Center for Effective Philanthropy (2020), 84 percent of nonprofit leaders reported that the pandemic is having a moderate or significant negative impact on their organizations, particularly for those providing direct services and serving historically disadvantaged communities. As a result, they are taking a number of actions including canceling or postponing fundraising events; reducing programs or services; drawing on their reserve funds; and reducing staff hours, wages, and/or benefits (CEP 2020).

Health foundations quickly recognized and responded to the need for flexible funding among grantees and nonprofits. As a result, many are providing general operating support. These grants, designed to support the mission of a nonprofit rather than specific programs or projects, provide the working capital an organization needs to sustain its day-to-day operations (GEO 2014).

GIH’s July 2020 Quick Poll asked foundations about the provision of general operating support to help current grantees and other nonprofits weather the financial impacts of COVID-19. The question, fielded in GIH’s July 2020 E-Alert, received 30 responses. The vast majority (90 percent) reported that their foundations are providing general operating support. Seven percent reported that their foundations are not offering general operating support and three percent are considering such support.



Martin, Hannah, Ellie Buteau, and Kate Gehling. Funder Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Cambridge, MA: Center for Effective Philanthropy, June 2020.

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. The Smarter Grantmaking Playbook: What is General Operating Support and Why is it Important? Washington, DC: May 29, 2014.

August Quick Poll question

Does your foundation fund voter engagement efforts?

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