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"BSI’s Montana Nonprofit Connections Program is one of the most extraordinary examples of capacity building in the country, and serves as a national rural model for collaborative grantmaking."

Janine Lee, Co-Founder Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

President & CEO, Southeastern Council of Foundations
Excellence in Nonprofit Communications Overview for 2017

Introduction: The Excellence in Nonprofit Communications Grant Award program (ENC) is designed to be a transformative experience that demonstrates the positive impact that targeted communications, strategic printed materials, and electronic presentations can have on furthering a nonprofit’s mission, capacity and fundraising success. The grant award recipient will work with the ENC Partners, who are all communications professionals, to create:

  • A communications plan that defines a strategic communications objective(s) and target audience(s), and crafts key messaging tailored to the desired audience(s),
  • Strategic and compelling printed and/or electronic material to support the messaging, and
  • A distribution plan for implementation.

NOTE: Changes may be recommended to the awardee’s communications strategies, activities, publications and electronic media. These will be made to align with the awardee’s mission, current activities and capacity, but may also suggest new ways or approaches to improve an organization’s communications profile.

ENC is a component of the Helena Development Initiative (HDI), a program of the Big Sky Institute for the Advancement of Nonprofits (BSI). HDI provides a model for community-based professional development in fundraising skills and expansion of local philanthropic resources.  ENC is being refined as a demonstration project, with anticipated adaptation by business collaborations and the nonprofit sector in other Montana communities.

Eligibility:  An applicant must:

  • Be a tax-exempt, tax deductible 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
  • Be based in Lewis and Clark County.
  • Have annual revenue sufficient to support three full-time staff, programs and communications.
  • Have the board and staff capacity to take maximum advantage of the substantial pro-bono contributions made by the ENC Partners.
  • Propose a project that will involve all the ENC Partners and can be accomplished within the ENC 2017 time frame.
  • Demonstrate how it takes advantage of statewide, regional and/or national resources, as well as community training and capacity building resources to increase its organizational effectiveness.

Grant Award Package: The grant award recipient will receive the following assistance:

  • Up to 25 hours of strategic communications consulting to identify goal(s), objective(s), target audience(s), message(s), and written and electronic communications tools.
  • In-depth design, development, print and digital media assistance to make-over existing communications tools or the development of a new product (e.g., annual report, brochure, fundraising appeal, signage, website,social media, etc).
  • Assistance in determining how the communications project can help with fundraising.
  • Assistance in planning and holding a celebration event to showcase new products and project outcomes.

 Grant Award Recipient Commitment: The grant award recipient will agree to:

  • Create a Leadership Team of board and staff to work with the ENC Partners to complete the project by September 1, 2017, and identify alternative leadership to complete the project, if necessary.
  • Have the full Board meet with BSI staff to discuss overall project responsibilities, and ensure that the organization’s Leadership Team understands its responsibilities and what to expect from the Partners.
  • Have the Leadership Team attend project development meetings with the Partners.
  • Review and sign off on the final versions of all project products, both print and electronic.
  • Co-sponsor an event with the ENC Partners announcing the grant award, ideally in its own facility, and make maximum use of it as a media awareness and donorcultivation opportunity.
  • Showcase the results and impact of the project by participating in a follow-up case study and community presentations, as well as promotion on BSI’s website.

 ENC is NOT:

  • A quick way to get materials or signage immediately produced, or a website created or updated, without first developing a communications plan with key messaging.
  • A way to obtain pro-bono services not specified in a signed Scope of Work Agreement with ENC.
  • A flexible set of resources that can be changed as organizational needs emerge.

 NOTE: Awardees may contract on a fee basis with one or more of the ENC Partners for supplemental work not specified in the Scope of Work Agreement with ENC.


The deadline for email receipt of applications is now past.


ENC 2017 Services Outline

ENC 2017 Business Partners

ENC Case Studies & Reports

Profile of a Successful ENC Project