Of the many things COVID-19 has taught the philanthropic sector, the lesson that feels most urgent is that philanthropy has the potential to be bigger, bolder, and more transformative in support of positive social change, especially in a time of great societal need. 

Early on in the pandemic, and joined by almost 780 other philanthropies, Overdeck Family Foundation signed the Council on Foundations Pledge to loosen grant restrictions, reduce the burden on grantees, and be more responsive and proactive in our giving. Responding to COVID-19 in these ways made our work better, our grantee relationships stronger, and our team more energized, informed, and creative.

The changes we made in response to COVID-19 dovetail with changes we had planned in response to feedback we received from over 90 grantees in our October 2019 Grantee Perception Survey. Notably, our grantees asked for greater transparency in our grant decisions, a more streamlined grantmaking process, and longer and deeper support.

While our processes are changing, our steadfast commitment to increasing impact for all children, families, and teachers is not.

This summer, we have been hard at work on many improvements, which we expect will result in a more transparent and streamlined process that is more focused on understanding and meeting community needs than ever before. We are also proud to signal that our grantmaking will adhere to the principles of trust-based philanthropy, seeking to give multi-year, unrestricted funding that offers support beyond the check. 

Early in 2021, you can expect: 

  1. Clear funding criteria that outlines what to expect in terms of diligence stages, grant size, grant term, and monitoring/evaluation 
  2. A simplified and streamlined diligence process, especially for grantees in multi-year engagements 
  3. Increased emphasis on general operating support grants, especially for programs directly serving children, families, and teachers 
  4. A commitment to deepening multi-year grants and partnerships 

Stay tuned for more updates on how we plan to respond to feedback asking for more clarity on goals and strategy, as well as deeper non-monetary supports; both are in strategic formation as we write this letter. 

As this unusual school year begins, our focus remains on finding, funding, and growing the most impactful organizations. While our processes are changing, our steadfast commitment to increasing impact for all children, families, and teachers is not. We believe the changes in how we operate will not only help us achieve our mission and commitments more fully, but will also provide increased value and support to our grantee partners. 

We are thankful for all the work they do, and look forward to an impactful year ahead.

– Anu Malipatil, Vice President, Education