Grantees wish for peer support and flexibility from funders during the corona pandemic

We asked our grantees about the ways the pandemic is influencing the work for which they were awarded the grant. In addition to the negative consequences, the crisis is seen as something that enhances community spirit and as an opportunity to make practices more sustainable.

In a survey held from 23 April to 3 May, we asked our grantees how the corona pandemic is affecting the work for which they have been awarded the grant, as well as for ideas on how Kone Foundation could further help them in this situation. We received answers from 70 of our grantees, working both in research and the arts.


The spring of changes and its impact on grantees’ work

Childcare, home schooling and reduced work efficiency are slowing down grantees’ implementation of their plans. The answers show that the flexibility of the Foundation’s funding has allowed them to plan their work in a way that has made working possible for many of them. However, in addition to intellectual and peer support, they also crave certainty about the continuation of funding. The replies reveal a wish for an extended grant that would compensate for the losses suffered during the pandemic. In addition to short-term support, grantees hope for support for long-term work in research and the arts.

Reduced working hours are a reality for many of them. They have had to devote some of their working hours to things that weren’t included in their plans. As one respondent explains, use of time is calculated in a work schedule on the basis of normal working hours and normal mental resources. Many grantees have had to focus only on what is necessary, postponing design, planning and development far into the future. Cancelled trips, performances and field work are the new normal. Although the situation may ease in the autumn, grantees have found it difficult to prepare themselves for an uncertain future. In a working group, planning for the future is challenging because many of the members are involved in project work. Closed archives, libraries and trainee workplaces inevitably affect progress with projects.

The impact of the pandemic on income losses depends on the project. Estimates of the loss of income range from zero to thousands or tens of thousands of euros. The protracted situation is making it more difficult for grantees to make plans: when will they be able to continue work where they meet other people? When will they be able to organise events or concerts, and on what terms? What will the world look like in the autumn, and how can they prepare themselves for it? Researchers’ responses reveal uncertainty about the impact of the pandemic on their career development. Their research plans have changed, and researchers may have concerns about their ability to complete projects.


Hoping for support and continuity

We received a wide range of concrete proposals to our question about how the Foundation might further help grantees. The answers highlight the grantees’ need to continue their projects for slightly longer than planned. The respondents hope that a flexible approach will be possible in the future too: many grantees would welcome a sympathetic approach from the Foundation to the fact that work plans sometimes do change. As in the previous survey, the best way to help, according to the respondents, is to provide additional funding or a grant for finishing off a piece of work, coupled with an application process that is as streamlined as possible. We found it significant and noteworthy that, in addition to financial support, the respondents wish for more emotional support – both from peers and professionals. The new situation and disturbed plans have affected everyone’s plan of action in one way or another. Many people have also found it challenging to adjust to the special arrangements required for childcare and home schooling and are worried about their loved ones.

Despite the situation, the respondents also see some positive effects: “No one has tried to evade meetings and I feel that the group spirit has only improved.” The answers of those who do performance work reflected the hope that consumers would better understand the value and social importance of art in the future. One positive consequence of the crisis is considered the reduction in air travel in the future. Respondents also wished for support in making the leap to digital platforms in their everyday work: if my work has moved online, how do I live stream it or distribute it professionally? A recurrent theme in the answers is the need for a shoulder to lean on in tough times, even a virtual one: a lot of people crave peer support and confirmation that it’s okay to do as much as you can and no more in these circumstances. Many grantees wish for peer support and peer circles in these exceptional times.

Kone Foundation sympathises with changes that occur during projects. We want to remind you that the period during which the grant can be used will be extended by 12 months for projects affected by the pandemic. However, we ask you to please report on any changes to your plans resulting from the pandemic and let us know if you need to extend the period of using your grant. In this autumn’s application round, we will award additional funding for projects supported by the Foundation. We will provide you with more information about this soon. We will also be looking into ways to organise peer support. We are more than happy to receive any ideas you may have.


Marianne Parvinen

Kone Foundation’s Grant Secretary