In September, we shared a message from our Board leadership about a strategy revision process that will lead to new grantmaking priorities by summer 2024. This strategy revision comes after 10 years of funding under our current priorities. When the current priorities began, we committed to examine those priorities at this 10-year juncture to ensure our work evolves to meet the changing needs of our communities.

We know that grantmaking transitions such as this - that come with the possibility of change - can be stressful for grantees. To minimize disruption to ongoing work and important organizations, the Board of Directors directed staff to develop a new and temporary approach to grantmaking.

Using this approach, the Foundation’s Board recently awarded more than $36 million in grants to 110 organizations that have been long-term grantees of the Foundation. These grants are one-time awards to provide flexible funding for recipients to sustain work that the Foundation has supported for years. The flexibility in this latest funding is also meant to allow organizations to adjust to any shifts in Foundation priorities that may occur. This large set of grants was made to minimize disruptions to the excellent work and nonprofit organizations that we have supported.


More flexibility and fewer restrictions

The structure of these recent grants is, by design, different from our typical grantmaking. Organizations did not have to complete any application to be eligible for funding. And the grants offer organizations more flexibility and fewer restrictions. Grantees only have to use the funds to advance the same general purpose that the Foundation has supported in the past.

In addition to supporting long-established projects and organizations in a responsible manner during our strategy revision, this flexible grantmaking provides us with an opportunity to learn from this approach. Rather than completing a typical final report, grantees will complete a streamlined report that will help us to learn about their work and the benefits and drawbacks of making grants in this way. We will assess the impact on grantee and staff time, grantee perceptions about the Foundation and their relationship with us, and whether grantees spend the funds in different and more productive ways. We plan to use this information to shape our approach to grantmaking under future strategies.


About our decision-making process

These grants were awarded to organizations that met the following criteria: 1) they are current grantees who have demonstrated success in recent projects; 2) they have an active grant scheduled to end within the next 12 months and 3) they have been doing work that is integral to the Foundation’s current Great Learning or Watershed Protection programs for at least the past three years. (Because our Creative Communities program was revised in late 2021, it is not part of the strategy revision, is continuing its regular grantmaking, and was not part of this one-time initiative.)

Grants amounts are similar to the average amount that these grantees have received to support this work in recent years.

It’s important to note that these grants do not mean that the recipients are unlikely to be funded for work in the future; they may be recommended for funding in the future to support work that will align with new strategies.

As we stated in September, we understand that shifts in our grantmaking create concern among grantees and others. We are committed to being transparent about changes that emerge from the strategy revision process, and to being thoughtful and sensitive in supporting organizations through any changes. Our partnership with the nonprofit community in the Philadelphia region is invaluable to our collective efforts to create a vibrant and equitable Philadelphia region.