An Expert Opinion: Food for Thought on Nonprofit Funding Evaluation

From time to time, NCLGBA looks forward to featuring commentary from industry and government experts on a variety of issues impacting local government budgeting. The following was posted to the NPLG listserv by Margaret Henderson, Director of the Public Intersection Project, UNC School of Government.

Margaret Henderson
Director, Public Intersection Project
UNC School of Government

During this time of year, local and state governmental organizations, as well as some foundations, are in the process of receiving and considering nonprofit funding applications, then making their final decisions.

The purpose of this email is to (1) serve as a sanity check for the challenges of the season and (2) remind nonprofits, foundations, and governments that it might be useful to schedule a meeting to assess how well the process worked this year and how it might be strengthened for next year.

Those of you struggling to compare the outcomes of different kinds of nonprofits might appreciate this blog by David Heinen, the director of public policy and advocacy at the NC Center for Nonprofits:  http://www.ncnonprofits.org/blog/2013/02/05/one-size-does-not-fit-all-nonprofits-or-sports

Those of you wondering whether your funding process accomplishes what you want it to might find this article useful as a guide for group discussion: http://sogpubs.unc.edu/electronicversions/pg/pgsum02/article4.pdf

Finally, it can be beneficial for foundations and governmental funders to meet to exchange information.  Even though your work might seem different, you do serve the same communities and might share similar goals.

At the local level, this meeting might involve city and county governments, United Way, and community foundations.  At the state level, the meetings might be organized around topical areas, such as violence against women or redefining local economies,and involve regional/state foundations and state offices that manage state or federal funding streams.

Renewing efforts to exchange information across organizations about available resources, priorities, processes, the rationale behind decisions, and emerging developments is particularly critical during times of economic and political stress.

Thanks for all of your good work,
Margaret Henderson
margaret@sog.unc.edu
Director, The Public Intersection Project
The School of Government, UNC-Chapel Hill
www.publicintersection.unc.edu

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