'Traditional' foundation makes big bet on unrestricted giving. Will it stick post-COVID?

In 2017, just 4 percent of the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation’s grants were “unrestricted.” Today, their no-strings-attached giving has surged to about 70 percent of all gifts.

Why It Matters

During the pandemic, many funders relaxed granting restrictions, allowing charities to be more adaptable and resource hard-to-fund infrastructure costs. Two years in, many charities are still struggling — with increased service demands and decreased donations — and wonder: will grantors be snapping back to program-funding business-as-usual?

This journalism ​​is made possible by the Future of Good editorial fellowship covering the social impact world’s rapidly changing funding models, supported by Future of Good, Community Foundations of Canada, and United Way Centraide Canada. See our editorial ethics and standards here.

On the morning of March 16, 2020, as COVID was bearing down on Canada, Laura Manning fired off an email that delighted her foundation’s 30-odd grantees — and made one cry.  

“Effective immediately,” she wrote them, “we are removing restrictions on all current grants…Use the money for WHATEVER you need to — giving staff paid quarantine days, addressing changes in service demand, paying your rent, anything that’s needed. 

“You do not need to seek approval first. Do wh

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