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Grant Seeking in the Age of Corona

Tuesday, May 5, 2020   (3 Comments)
Posted by: Ellen Gugel, GPC
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I planned on, and wrote, a different article for this issue months ago. Now, the timing seems off to publish an article that assumes “business as usual.”


Right now, we are all adjusting how we work, what we are working on, and responding to urgent requests and opportunities for emergency funding. Grant seeking in the Age of Corona looks very different depending on what sector you work in.


How has the pandemic affected your sector and your grant seeking?


As a consultant, I have clients in different sectors, so I am seeing different situations:


  • The performing arts theatre is sidelined, and not a fit for most emergency grants, at least at this point. Their financial staff is applying for the Paycheck Protection Program and other federal relief because they have time to do these, now that the theatre is closed.
  • The food bank has several emergency grants they are eligible for – and getting quickly.
  • The summer camp is updating its funders about the status of camp this summer (answer: “unknown”). They are asking about redirecting scholarship grants in case camp is closed this summer.
  • A mental health provider was forced to close its site and has completely upended the way they work. They are now reaching clients with daily phone check-ins and Zoom meetings. They are getting an emergency grant to upgrade technology for the new way of reaching clients and to help clients get technology and internet connection. They are communicating with their state agency funders to adjust deliverables.
  • An environmental education center whose primary income this time of year is field trips for public elementary school students is losing income, as schools are closed indefinitely. They will either take longer to satisfy program grants or have them converted to operating grants.
  • The household goods bank still has clients, but by appointment only, and the organization furloughed all but three staff members. Clients have dropped off because fewer people are being evicted, and fewer are choosing to move out of their current situations, even if overcrowded or at risk of domestic violence.


A few things I have been doing since March:

  • Reaching out to funders on the calendar for future grants to learn what their grant-making plans are in the Age of Corona;
  • Helping clients reach out to current funders to update them on their organizations’ status and plans, and asking about redirecting grants or converting program grants to general operating grants;
  • Applying for Covid-19 emergency grants;
  • Applying for future grants where the grant makers’ plans are not likely to change (e.g., a foundation that only funds tree planting in a particular city); and writing in a short bit about how the ongoing Covid-19 crisis may affect implementation and the proposed outcomes. Every grant proposal I have written since March 1 includes an acknowledgement of the pandemic.


Most concerning to me is our arts and culture sector. They depend on people coming together at theatres, museums, and concert venues. The pandemic has ripped away their ability to provide for themselves, as it has for many of the people and businesses around us. Yet most emergency grants are not for them. Understandably, they are to feed people and provide for other basic needs like diapers and infant formula.


What does the future look like for your organization? What are you doing differently in the Age of Corona? Finally, what concerns you most?


About the Author:

Ellen Gugel, GPC, is an independent grants consultant in Massachusetts since 2008 when she started Grants & More, working with organizations that inspire and improve people’s lives with services for children and families; refugees and immigrants; people with disabilities; environmental education and conservation; arts and culture; and more. Ellen is the current Regional Representative for Region 5 (New England and New York) and a member of the New England Chapter.



Planning & Prioritizing


GPC Competencies:

#2: Knowledge of organizational development as it pertains to grant seeking (knowing an organization’s needs/capacity for grant seeking under different circumstances)

#7 Knowledge of practices and services that raise the level of professionalism of grant developers (keeping up with external environmental factors and how they affect grant seeking)


Ellen M. Gugel GPC says...
Posted Thursday, May 7, 2020
Thanks for sharing your experience, Mitzy. Sounds like your organization is very resilient!
Kelli L. Romero says...
Posted Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Wow Mitzy! Your organization and district has really had to adjust during this time. So glad you all are surviving!
Mitzy Carter says...
Posted Tuesday, May 5, 2020
My organization matches middle school students with adult mentors from the community through referrals from schools and other state agencies in our area. We have switched, at least temporarily, to modeling how to mentor virtually or while maintaining social distance. We also are pioneering a new virtual tutoring/homework help program, as well as facilitating computer pickup from the schools & internet hookup for students lacking those things. We've had to think fast on our feet, and our community is still reeling from being hard hit by flooding over the winter so it's been a struggle, but we are surviving, thanks to our shoestring budget and willingness to be flexible and great staff, board and volunteers!