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Nebraska Grant Funders Discuss COVID-19 Funding Strategies

Faced with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, grant makers across the country are taking a variety of approaches regarding the support they are currently providing to non-profits……...and how they might look at giving in the future.

Many have already created rapid-response funds, some are focusing on general-operating support, and many have streamlined the processes for non-profits to request and report on grants.

Paul J. Strawhecker, Inc. reached out to several foundations to learn more about how COVID-19 is impacting their plans for giving in 2020 and beyond.  Here are their responses:


During this challenging and uncertain time, the Suzanne & Walter Scott Foundation is committed to remaining a strong partner to the charitable sector. Within the first few months of the COVID-19 crisis the foundation chose to suspend regular grant-making activities in an effort to focus on emergency response related to basic needs.

As we progress through the year, the foundation has expanded consideration and support in other areas, prioritizing requests related to unbudgeted expenses as a result of the pandemic. Preference is given to organizations who have a history of support and fall within charitable priority areas, have demonstrated thoughtful management of their budget and assets and can provide defined contingency plans for 2020 and beyond.

While the foundation’s application process remains invitation-only we encourage organizations to maintain communication and be open and honest when it comes to needs. Those that wish to apply for funding should contact a Program Officer and prepare to respond to a COVID-19 Impact & Request Questionnaire available on our website.

Sarah Lopez

Suzanne & Walter Scott Foundation


Throughout the last three months we have seen donors respond generously to the urgent needs nonprofits face as a result of COVID-19. No matter what size of donor, the short-term focus has been on immediate and urgent relief for front line workers and basic needs across our community including food, rent/mortgage assistance, and health and mental health services. Locally, we have seen this with our own COVID-19 Response Fund and the recent success of Omaha Gives.

Long term we believe there will be significant impact on our local nonprofits; not only in how they operate, but how they will conduct fundraising. There will likely be a shift to using more virtual and online fundraising tools, and we’ll see expanded, sustained collaboration between community partners as we look to be more effective with our resources. Nonprofits have adapted quickly and strategically, and the Omaha Community Foundation looks forward to continuing our partnership with them.

Donna Kush

President and CEO, Omaha Community Foundation


Like the Omaha Community Foundation, the Lincoln Community Foundation is focusing their grant making on COVID-19 related issues. Both LCF and Lincoln’s Cooper Foundation have moved to enact rapid response formats, allowing monthly applications. 

Jan Reifler Fry, PJS Grant Writer/Funding Advisor, has worked and volunteered in fundraising and development for over 30 years. As someone who is closely monitoring the landscape, Jan reports there has been an explosion of RFP's on GrantWatch relevant to COVID-19 and helping nonprofits negatively impacted by the Pandemic.  “Many important funders are focusing grant awards to address community needs caused by the Coronavirus.  Foundations are trying to get money out to nonprofits more quickly.”

Jan strongly urges nonprofit leaders to call potential funders to discuss their particular situation and need before submitting applications.  “Open and honest communication is always key to developing a successful proposal,” notes Fry.

Feel free to reach out to Ryan Strawhecker at  or 402-556-5785.