Member Spotlight – JW & HM Goodman Family Foundation

We are hearing from a lot of our members about how they are changing their giving in response to COVID-19. Stories inspire and we want to share some of them with you. Each week, we will introduce you to a member of GOSW who has responded to COVID-19 and what that looks like through sharing. This week, Michelle Goodman, Executive Director of JW & HM Goodman Family Foundation, answers a few questions about how things have evolved in the midst of this crisis. 

Before COVID-19, what were your priorities as a foundation/funder?

  • Arts & Culture: Music lessons for underprivileged youth in K-12 grades;
  • Environment:  Creating healthy resilient forests and/or watersheds that maintain and increase biodiversity to mitigate the effects of climate change;
  • Education: Paid stipends for internships at nonprofits for college undergraduate and/or graduate students;
  • Health & Human Services: Case management services for low-income Seniors living in diverse communities;

In brief, how has your foundation been able to respond to COVID-19 (for example, changed guidelines, relaxed requirements, etc.)?

The foundation reached out to all grantees and loosened restrictions on 2019 grant awards by converting grants to general operating support. In addition, the foundation agreed to make future 2020 grant awards for general operating support instead of project/program support.

Have you changed the process of how you give and, if so, how have you changed it?

We have reduced our 60-minute site visit to a 30-minute phone call and we ask one question: “How has COVID-19 affected your organization’s work.”  This gives us the opportunity to better understand how the organization is transitioning its work in light of the crisis and it helps us to learn more about their challenges and issues.  In addition, we are not requiring a full five page grant proposals but we are making grant award decisions based on their two page letter of interest and the 30-minute phone call as appropriate.

In what ways, if any, have you partnered with other funders (for example, contributed to pooled funds, worked with government agencies, collaborated with planning, matching specific funds, etc.)?

In addition to being a member of GOSW, we are also members of Northern California Grantmakers, San Diego Grantmakers, and the National Center for Family Philanthropy. We are participating in weekly conference calls with funders who are members of these grantmaking associations to learn about government and community-based organization responses to COVID 19.  We are adopting best practices from other funders so that we can respond quickly and we are looking for collaborative opportunities with other funders.

Are there any situations/stories that you find nonprofits are facing that really resonated with you (either challenges or inspirational) that you feel capture what they are going through or how they are responding?

On a recent Zoom call, the Executive Director of a local food nonprofit was sitting in her living room telling us about what it’s like to work 18-hours each day searching for food and health-related supplies for those struggling in the communities they serve. Inside her garage are a group of volunteers sewing masks and bartering with other organizations for supplies that can be traded so that she can provide for the basic needs of those in her community.  This is dedication and resiliency!

If there was one learning or realization that you would like to tell other funders, what would that be?

This is a crash course in trust-based philanthropy, grant applications don’t have to be complicated and foundations can react quickly. My hope is that this experience will guide changes to grantmaking so that nonprofits can spend less of their time and resources applying to us.