Working with Our Grantees in a Time of Crisis
By Leonard Benardo
The COVID-19 pandemic is placing huge, unprecedented strains on national economies and health care systems around the world. This global crisis directly threatens the work and well-being of many groups and individuals that receive funding support from the Open Society Foundations. It also brings us new demands to respond to the challenges of the moment, and of the future.
We recognize that the situation on the ground in any given place is changing rapidly. We also know that even as we find ways to curb the virus, its impacts will be felt well into the future. The challenges and priorities today—and what they will be tomorrow—require agility, resilience, and responsiveness. It is for that reason that we stand ready to find flexibility in our support that allows grantees to respond to these challenges.
First, we would like to reassure all our grantees that the Open Society Foundations are in a stable financial situation. There is no reason for you to be concerned that we will be unable to meet our obligations to you.
Second, Open Society will defer to its grantees to make their own risk-based assessments about whether and how to alter activities in response to COVID-19. The Foundations do not want to place any more burdens on grantees whose work has been adversely impacted by the pandemic. In the coming weeks and months, we will reach out to better understand the impact of the public health crisis on your work.
Third, on a case-by-case basis, our program officers and directors are prepared to consider sympathetically any requests you make for adjustments to allow you to use funds to cover unanticipated costs related to preparedness, response, or risk mitigation associated with this health emergency, or to cover other penalties incurred, as a result of cancelled activities.
If grantees find that it is more costly to implement an Open Society grant due to the coronavirus health emergency, they should work with their program officers to assess whether there is funding to cover these unforeseen costs.
We know that the values you fight for every day have been undergoing severe stress tests in the current environment, and that COVID-19 will challenge us all in ways we could not have foreseen. We are with you in this fight, and together, I am confident that we will navigate these new circumstances together.