|Operating Support Grants|
What is operating support?
General operating support, also known as unrestricted or core operating support, invests in a grantee’s mission rather than specific projects or programs. The primary purpose of providing general operating support is to give grantees flexibility to pursue their goals as they see fit, whether for salaries and overhead, to invest in technology, or to fund a marketing campaign.
Under what circumstances does KDK-Harman Foundation consider operating grants?
KDK-Harman Foundation believes that general operating support helps organizations become more effective. We provide general operating support to our nonprofit partners that possess the following characteristics: (1) the nonprofit partner shares goals that are substantially aligned with the Foundation’s; (2) the nonprofit partner has a strong track record of success and impact on its target population; (3) the nonprofit partner has a strong working relationship with the Foundation; and (4) the nonprofit has received previous grants from the Foundation. Moreover, the applicant should not request more than ten percent of the agency’s total operating budget.
How does the Foundation assess the impact of operating grants?
Engaging in operating grants has meant that the Foundation has had to change its focus from program-level outcomes to the social impact of the organization as a whole when assessing the effectiveness of operating grants. This means using assessment as a platform for promoting learning and continuous improvement among grantees. The guiding questions now become: How is the agency delivering on its mission? How does the agency set goals to track its progress? And to what extent is general operating support contributing to its success?
KDK-Harman Foundation prefers to fund “negotiated operating grants,” in that the Foundation works closely with its nonprofit partner to settle on areas where the nonprofits wants to improve (e.g., board development, resource development, staff training, or all of the above) and the benchmarks of success in those areas. The Foundation then trusts the grantee to use an operating grant as it sees fit to reach the agreed upon benchmarks. In our assessment of operating grants, we want to know two things: (1) is the agency getting stronger and developing the capacity to do its work better and more effectively over time; and (2) is the agency learning important lessons about what does or does not work to achieve progress in a given field, and can that learning be shared with others? We will work with grantees individually to identify “organizational indicators” that can point to the impact of general operating support. This usually requires that the nonprofit have a clear and developed logic model and/or strategic plan.
What are some examples of past operating grants that KDK-Harman Foundation has made?
How can I learn more about operating support?
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, General Operating Support: An Action Guide and General Operating Support, vol. 2: Assessing the Impact, online at www.geofunders.org.