Foundations Adopt Policies to Move More Money Faster, With Fewer Restrictions
Giving Up Control
In shuttling money out the door more quickly, foundations sometimes give up control over how they make grants. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, according to Matthew Randazzo, president of the Dallas foundation, one of the Texas organizations that developed the common application. Too often, he says, philanthropy gazes too intently on having a strategic vision rather than really focusing on those in need.
Randazzo is confident that foundations will keep the “muscle memory” of using the common application well into the future, when the country is not in the grip of a crisis.
The single form was adopted by several types of philanthropies, from family offices to corporate donors, including Toyota Motor North America and the Celanese Corporation. In normal times, each type of donor would typically insist on collecting specific information from a nonprofit to determine if its work fits the donor’s preference. For instance, Randazzo says, a corporate foundation might want to ensure that its grant was going to benefit its brand, or a private foundation might pay special attention to whether the applicant’s work hewed to a particular social-change strategy.
“We tried to accomplish the right balance between collecting the information that philanthropies would need to move through the grant-making process to present to their boards, while not overburdening the nonprofits who are applying,” Randazzo says.
What that meant was the form needed to be simple and ensure that the any cash directed to successful applicants would be used to respond to the pandemic. After the grant, instead of detailed reporting requirements, Randazzo says, his foundation’s grantees are simply required to certify that the money went to fulfill the Dallas Foundation’s approach to the crisis.
“That’s as much as we’ve asked of our nonprofit partners at this time because we want food banks out there filling bellies,” he says.