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What People Say About Us
"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
Project Grant Guidelines

Funding Criteria:
The review process for Project Grants will include consideration of the following criteria:
  1. The organization is working on critical community issues and/or is reaching a significant number of under-served people.
  2. The organization’s board and staff are committed to conducting the assessment and priority-setting process; have a desire to implement recommended improvements; are willing to engage in follow-up activities; and will provide advice and mentoring to other organizations seeking MNC grants.
  3. The organizational environment is conducive to working with a consultant, including stable leadership, board/staff consensus on the needs and desired outcomes, and the absence of imminent organizational crises.
  4. The organization has demonstrated a need for the project determined through a comprehensive organizational assessment process, and the project is likely to have a significant impact on the organization.
  5. Matching Funds: A cash and/or in-kind commitment is encouraged, but neither is required for this program. In determining your in-kind commitment to the project, consider such “human resources” as staff time, board member volunteer time, meeting facilities owned by the organization or donated by others, refreshments, phone calls, travel, and other costs.
Eligible Expenses:
Project grants are for consultation (by an external consultant) to help improve the management capacity of nonprofit organizations, thus promoting organizational effectiveness. The primary use of grant funds is to pay costs to conduct the consultation project (fees, travel costs, etc.).

Some examples of eligible projects include:

  • Organizational Planning: Strategic Planning; Organizational Structure
  • Program Design and Evaluation
  • Cultural Diversity Issues
  • Marketing/Communications
  • Leadership Development for Board, Staff or Volunteers
  • Strategic Partnerships: Collaboration
  • Financial Management
  • Fund Development Planning
Other organizational development needs will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Training/conference expenses will only be considered as part of a more comprehensive approach to organizational needs, and generally will not be funded

During the current round of funding, typical projects will be funded for up to $5,000. Larger requests may be granted on a case-by-case basis, considering special circumstances (such as an organization located in a rural area, which would require higher travel costs).

Generally, up to 15% of the grants can be used for non-consultant costs related to the project, such as staff time or meeting expenses. Exceptions for a higher administrative percentage will be made in special circumstances, for example for travel to remote rural areas. If you include non-consulting costs on your application, please specify how the non-consulting funds will be used.

The recipient organization will select and contract with a consultant most appropriate to carry out its specific project based on the needs determined in the organizational assessment. Grant payments will be sent directly to the organization once a contract (or memorandum of agreement) has been signed with a consultant. BSI provides a Consultant Directory in a variety of organizational development areas, though grantees may select a consultant not on the list. BSI also provides informational materials about selecting and contracting with a qualified consultant.

Ineligible Projects
MNC grants will not be made for the following activities: staffing or general operating support; information systems/technology planning; equipment or software purchase; construction or rehabilitation of facilities; emergency repairs; debt liquidation; fundraising, such as expenses to hold a special event or to conduct a direct mail campaign; or routine financial audits. The MNC Program will not underwrite expenses associated with capital campaigns, including feasibility studies. Projects requesting a consultant to perform staff functions will not receive funding.

Additional Information
Notification of the status of your grant: You will receive notification, by email, that your application has been received within 10 days of its receipt. All applicants will receive notification of the acceptance or rejection of their application in August.

Applying for funding from participating foundations: Receipt of a grant from MNC does not prevent an organization from applying for, or receiving, financial support from any of the sponsoring funding sources/foundations for other purposes. Be sure to research the application guidelines and process for any of the funders before submitting an application.

Evaluation and Reporting: After the assessment or project is completed, we’ll ask you to evaluate your experience with MNC, the assessment process, and the consultant you selected. A final written report will be due within 45 days of the end of the consulting project. Follow-up evaluation will be conducted at six and 12 months to ask you about implementation and longer-term impact on the organization.

In the final report, we’ll ask you to address the following items:

  • what you have learned;
  • timelines for implementation of activities or results of work with the consultant(s);
  • financial report of revenue and expenses;
  • other elements you would like to highlight;
  • your overall experience with MNC and any suggestions you have for improvement; and
  • an evaluation of the consultant you selected.

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