The Michigan Nonprofit Association is gearing up to help oversee a new $50 million grant program included in the latest state budget to help small nonprofits recover from pandemic-related losses.
The association, along with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, will administer the program that will steer funding to nonprofits with budgets of $2 million or less. The funding comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
Michigan Nonprofit Association President and CEO Kelley Kuhn said the program is meant to help small organizations that were — and continue to be — the hardest hit from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nonprofits really have not had a lot of opportunities or access to relief programs that have been put in place for other organizations and small businesses. This was our effort so nonprofits would have access to funds given the hardships many of them had as a result of the pandemic,” Kuhn said.
The association and state plan to work with local organizations to determine where funding is needed most. The funding will be distributed in $5,000 to $20,000 grants for general operating purposes.
The Legislature approved a bill for the budget year that starts Oct. 1, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign the budget in the coming days.
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said at an event in late March that the program is a “demonstration of our commitment and (we) would love to obviously have that conversation about what it looks like to move forward or to increase that number for that kind of support,” as MiBiz previously reported.
MNA External Affairs Officer Joan Gustafson called the one-time funding a “shot in the arm (small nonprofits) need to keep going.”
Given that Whitmer plans to sign the budget soon, organizations currently lack specifics on how the money will be allocated locally, although they will need to be in good standing with state and federal oversight agencies, Kuhn said.
“The decisions will be made at the local level, recognizing it’s the local organizations and partners there that have a better understanding of the needs of the community,” Kuhn said. “We really recognize that these organizations are on the small to medium size, so we are trying to not make the process too cumbersome.”
Meanwhile, officials expect the demand for funding to be far greater than the budget allocation, with needs spanning all nonprofit subsectors.
“Those that had fees for service tied back to them and with a fair amount of budgets supported by fundraising have still not come back to pre-pandemic levels,” Kuhn said.
Gustafson noted that nonprofits serving rural areas, in particular, show an acute need for funding in an increasingly competitive market.
“Community foundations and United Ways are very generous but they’re tapped out,” Gustafson said. “Now that people are getting back to fundraising and raising general operating dollars, there’s so much competition out there, too. It’s always difficult for nonprofits to raise general operating dollars.”
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