Key Points

This article examines the role played by nonprofit infrastructure organizations in assisting service-delivery nonprofits as they confronted the COVID-19 crisis. These organizations are differentiated by their service focus, but are united by a common mission to offer support to other nonprofits.

The service areas of nonprofit infrastructure organizations can be divided into three categories: those that support the nonprofit sector as a whole, those that assist nonprofit organizations and their staffs, and those that devote their resources to the communities or region they serve. For this article, leaders from these three types of organizations were asked to share their responses to nonprofits that sought help in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The diversity of services and business models revealed in the sample illustrates the range of complementary resources that benefit service-delivery nonprofits and their communities.

This article offers useful lessons for foundations by demonstrating how nonprofit infrastructure organizations have adapted to COVID-19 and continue to support the nonprofits they serve. Through moving grants from restricted to unrestricted funds, foundations empower these organizations to address the needs of nonprofits quickly and strategically. Such flexibility is critical to the success of nonprofits, and the pandemic provides an object lesson to test the idea that foundations should consider funding organizations rather than programs, thus allowing nonprofits to respond to needs that arise outside of the grant cycle.

Open Access