Here are my notes on the recent council grant awards. I’m not speaking for council here, just giving my impressions of how the conversation went, in hopes that the info will be of use to local nonprofits in future applications.
Big picture, the district has three grant streams available:
- RMI event grants (for events that fit RMI criteria; awarded by council)
- arts & culture grants (decided this year by public “Participatory Budgeting” process)
- council grants (awarded by council)
Each has its own criteria and application deadline. The first two have been awarded already, and we settled the council grants at our 4-May meeting.
Council grants this year had almost $35,000 in requests, with $25,000 available to disburse. Council has full discretion in awarding these grants, and can give out the full amount or hold some back, and pick and choose on which project gets what.
The general idea behind council grants (in my mind at least) is to give us an opportunity to foster projects that may not fit well with other grant programs, but would nevertheless be an asset to the community.
Let me add that it’s a thankless task deciding what to fund and what not. All submitted projects were worthy of support, and it was difficult to sort out the yea and nay. Here are the (unofficial) grants, with my own notes on what influenced the decisions for each. This is all public info, available in the 4-May meeting agenda and minutes (available here), apart from the notes, which are mine alone.
Council grants 2016 (unofficial)
Two projects (not listed) were not funded:
- an event series aimed mostly at tourists, that council felt would best be funded through the RMI grants;
- an arts mini-festival, with a non-local board, that would best be funded through arts & culture.
For future applicants, some lessons:
- Read and follow ALL the criteria. Some didn’t, and that makes it easier to lower their amount or strike them off the list. In particular, some applicants requested more than the recommended 10% (or $2,500) cap, and were reduced accordingly.
- Get your application in by the deadline, with all requested background materials (project budget, list of board members, etc.). Some were missing materials.
- “Local” is good. Council favoured projects that benefit residents, and were under local control.
Council seems to be moving in the direction of putting all arts events into the arts & culture grant stream, and all event applications (that fit the RMI criteria) into the RMI events grant stream. This would leave the council grants for separate, unrelated initiatives like social programs or new initiatives. It seems likely that we will be revising and clarifying the grant criteria for 2017, and possibly adjusting the dollars available for each. If you have ideas or suggestions along these lines, talk to a councillor when the time comes.
The advice from my 1-May-2015 blogpost mostly still stands. Full info (plus video of the discussion) at the link, but here are the relevant points:
- Grants that launch a new project, or explicitly expand an existing project, are well received.
- Projects that help extend the shoulder seasons (i.e. outside the June-July-August peak season) are well received.
- Projects that have been running for a long time are generally expected to find alternate, sustainable sources of funding.
- Target your project to the requirements listed in the application. RMI grants, especially, are quite restricted in what they can support.
- Send in a complete application, including required items like financials, board list, past reports due, etc. Several applications were missing pieces.
Nonprofits, i hope that helps!