May 4, 2020
Local Funders Convene for Virtual Funders Summit

On Tuesday, April 14, ECCF convened more than 70 local funders for their biennial Funders Summit. Originally planned at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, and centered on the topic of Capitalization, ECCF made a swift pivot amidst the COVID-19 health crisis and the group met virtually to discuss funding through a pandemic.

Individual, institutional and corporate funders welcomed the opportunity to connect virtually with their peers also striving to make the biggest possible impact with their funding in this time of intense need.

“The Funders Summit is always a trusted space where attendees can openly discuss strategy, challenges, and needs they are seeing.” said Carol Lavoie Schuster, VP of Grants and Nonprofit Services for ECCF “The need for this trusted space felt especially pertinent today, with so much uncertainty and so many unanswered questions – being able to share collective knowledge and insight is absolutely critical right now.”

Data gathered from multiple nonprofit impact surveys was shared to inform attendees of the broad impacts organizations around the county are experiencing due to the COVID-19 health crisis. The research showed that across the board, these organizations are struggling to meet the rise in need and sustain operations.

  • 88% of nonprofits surveyed report a complete disruption of services, Massachusetts Nonprofit Network survey
  • 32% of nonprofits surveyed have had to reduce staff hours and/or pay, Massachusetts Nonprofit Network survey
  • 34% of nonprofits surveyed reported no cash reserves, ECCF Survey
  • Approximately 45% of nonprofits surveyed have operating budgets less than $500k and less than 10 staff, ECCF survey
  • See the full data here

Once grounded by data, several local and national funders shared with the group how their giving strategies and operations have shifted to urgently help the nonprofit sector meet the unprecedented demand for services caused by the health crisis. Consistent themes emerged from the discussion:

  • Converting program grants to unrestricted grants
  • Simplifying or eliminating application processes
  • Seeking out collaborative funding opportunities
  • Understanding the current funding landscape and filling the gaps
  • Partnering with local organizations to best understand the needs on the ground

An open discussion followed where attendees shared their thoughts and hopes for what philanthropy’s “new normal” will look like as a result of this crisis. Significant interest emerged in getting together again in the coming months to reimagine this next phase of philanthropy with 100% of funders polled indicating they would like ECCF to facilitate.

To learn more about ECCF’s Funders Summit, contact Carol Lavoie Schuster at


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