Economic challenges and increased competition for dwindling resources is motivating many nonprofits and public agencies to take a closer look at collaboration as a means of ensuring sustainability. Organizations are increasingly leveraging resources by forming partnerships with other agencies. Funders welcome strong collaborative efforts that include joint grant seeking that will result in strengthening organizational effectiveness, expanding reach, and implementing best practices in a cost-effective manner.
Relevant grant news you can use: a state-by-state comparison of single audit findings, an upcoming SAM webinar, a look at CDBG funding cuts, and how "pay for success" financing could help social service programs.
Last week I discussed the issue of expanding broadband to disadvantaged populations and how this infrastructure requires both the support of the target community and improved “digital literacy” in communities. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) hosted a lessons learned webinar on May 20 to relate the successful strategies of the Recovery Act-funded Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and to provide a broadband adoption toolkit for local governments interested in replicating successful projects. This follow-up article highlights some of the inspiring examples provided by the BTOP presenters, who spearheaded projects that creatively assessed community needs and harnessed partnerships to improve economies and communities alike.
On Monday, I wrote about how the ban on earmarks has negatively affected small cities around the U.S. that once depended on such funding, as well as strategies that cities could adopt to fill the gap left behind. For this follow-up post, I’ve called on public policy experts and veteran grant writers to provide their opinion on the issue, posing the following question to them:
The word “earmark” is generally considered a dirty seven-letter word synonymous with frivolous spending and bribery, conjuring up the “Bridge to Nowhere” and the Randy “Duke” Cunninghan bribery scandal—pork barrel spending at its worst. The deaths of veteran lawmakers who were top players in the inside appropriations game—Ted Kennedy (MA), Robert Byrd (WV), Ted Stevens (AK), and John Murtha (PA)—helped weaken the defense of earmarks, which are now on mortatorium.**
But it’s not frivolous spending if your community benefits from the spending, some have argued. Earmarks once provided many small cities with the necessary funding for key projects. As Dr. Susan Tolchin, professor of public policy at George Mason University, has argued, "What's wrong with an earmark if the project is worthy?" ("What's So Bad About Earmarks?") Dr. Karen Kunz, professor of public administration at West Virginia University, is quoted in The New York Times as saying, “[M]ost earmark funding was for local infrastructure or social services.” If you're a city administrator who once relied on earmarks for such worthwhile infrastructure projects, chances are you’ve struggled over the past couple of years to match the funding that earmarks once provided.
The Nonprofit Finance Fund’s State of the Sector survey has been released. While the news is not surprising, the stats powerfully portray the pressure put on nonprofits: 85 percent of respondents experienced an increase in the demand for services in 2011; 88 percent expect an increase in demand in 2012 (previous surveys found this percentage at 77 percent or below).
Collaboration with a community-based organization (CBO) can be a great asset to local governments, but before jumping into an agreement it is important to do some background work to ensure that the arrangement has a likelihood of contributing to joint success. This publication leads you through the issues to consider before entering into a collaborative agreement.