Ask the Center: Loosening Restrictions on Grants During COVID-19 Crisis

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Our board is interested in converting selected restricted grants into unrestricted grants. We would also like to change the scope of work and goals for certain restricted grants in order to be more accommodating to partners that are seeking to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

The easiest way to amend grant agreements is by sending a letter style amendment. You do want to have written documentation, but you can keep it fairly simple. It could be a simple one-page letter that says something like the below and that would be countersigned at the bottom by the grantee:

Dear XYZ, pursuant to our discussions with you, because of COVID-19 and your needs, this letter is to confirm our mutual understanding and agreement to hereby amend the XYZ grant agreement dated on ABC to [describe the changes specifically, preferably with specific reference to the sections of the grant agreement]. Please countersign this letter below to acknowledge and agree to your agreement to the amendment of the grant agreement described in this letter.

In the worst-case scenario, given that people might not have access to printer/scanners to send to PDF of a signed letter while working from home, you could type the letter in the body of an email and modify the acknowledgement line to say that please reply to this email to confirm your acknowledgement and agreement; or, have them take a photo of the signed letter and email it back to you.

It is important to have something clear enough that you can reference later in case of a question/misunderstanding that may arise. Email is generally acceptable in most states as an electronic signature, but, frankly, even if not entirely compliant, the parties may have to be flexible under the circumstances and expect that a dispute will most likely not arise later. Again, just be as clear as possible with the emails/communications.

Learn more from Andras Kosaras. Listen to “Ask the Lawyer” here.

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