Foundations changing their ways

By Angela Kail 22 September 2009

Last week, the Boston Foundation, one of the oldest and largest community foundations in America, announced significant changes to the way that it is giving grants.

Not only is it changing from funding programmes of work to providing general operating support for charities, but it is also making this funding unrestricted, so that charities can spend it on whatever they need to. But the good news doesn’t just end there. It will also be making longer grants by removing term limits on the grants. And it is streamlining its application process, so that charities can apply for grants on a rolling basis rather than on deadlines set by the foundation. And it is putting more emphasis into measuring the impact of its grants.

Those of you who aren’t grant-making geeks may not see the significance of this announcement, but all these changes will make big differences to the charities that the Boston Foundation funds, and their beneficiaries. Having to rely on short-term funding that is restricted to one programme harms charities immensely in how flexible they can be, how innovative and how efficient. Because of this, organisations like Grantmakers for Effective Organisations and NPC with its report Granting success have been calling on grant-makers to change the way that they fund organisations. It is great to see one of the oldest and largest foundations in America answering these calls.