Management Assistance Grants
The Forbes Funds awards grants to help nonprofits build their management capacity so they can more effectively deliver on their mission.
The most effective organizations build and sustain their capacity through good governance, effective management, and regular adaptation. Building organizational capacity can be the difference between a nonprofit that merely survives, and one that thrives. The Forbes Funds provides nonprofits in Allegheny County with technical assistance and grants to better understand and address their organizational capacity needs and to build high-performing organizations.
Management Assistance Grants (MAGs) are designed to strengthen the management capacity of local nonprofit organizations, with a focus on human services and community development. The Forbes Funds’ support allows organizations to retain technical assistance consultants who help staff assess their strategic environment, identify unmet needs and opportunities, and develop efficient organizational structures and processes. Modest grants are made for well-defined projects that are custom-tailored to an organization’s capacity-building needs. Indirect costs (e.g., salaries and rent) are not covered. Management Assistance Grants range from $500 to $20,000.
What We Fund
All Management Assistance Grants must be used to hire a third party expert to develop a solution for a capacity building challenge. Below is a list of the areas of capacity building we can support.
- Priority is given to grants focusing on Finance, Strategy, and Organizational Realignment.
- Grants are also awarded to support Leadership, Facilities, and Systems.
It is increasingly vital for board members to understand their evolving role and the importance of their contributions to the advancement of the organization’s mission. We support topics such as board engagement, board/executive roles and responsibilities, ethical board governance, and types of governance models.
When transitions are necessary in an organization, leaders at all levels, including the board, need to be ready to act in ways that ensure continuity and stability. Succession planning is a proactive and systematic investment in building a plan and a pipeline of leaders within an organization in order to prepare for such transitions.
“No money no mission” is a common phrase heard today due to the tenuous financial environment that nonprofits face. Our support is directed at varying levels of financial analysis to ensure that an organization is on stable footing. The following are possible areas for which we provide funding:
With an often limited ability to buy or sell buildings, it is important for nonprofits to know how to use their space in efficient ways, and to determine specific needs and requirements for purchase, remodel, or expansion. An assessment of an agency’s physical facilities helps to determine the most appropriate locations and configuration of its services in relation to existing needs and assets. It is also essential to managing organizational risk.
Rising costs of building maintenance and utilities can cripple nonprofit organizations, especially when systems are out of date and inefficient. An energy audit helps to identify opportunities to reduce facility maintenance costs as well as the impact on the environment.
|Systems||IT Audit / Assessment||
In order for nonprofits to achieve their missions and maximize their reach in today’s world, it is necessary to use up-to-date technology in effective ways. An analysis of an agency’s information technology systems and equipment will result in recommendations for how to use technology in ways that will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of operations.
There are many factors that create potential risks to an agency’s success and can be detrimental if not addressed appropriately. A risk management plan identifies, assesses, and prioritizes these risks and how to deal with them, including, but not limited to the following the areas:
|Strategy||Strategic Priority Setting||
Prioritizing needs and opportunities to complement the mission of an agency can be challenging. Using data and trends from both the internal and external environments, this process works to analyze the mission, capacity, and services of an organization in order to make a determination of appropriate priorities.
A business plan is a detailed account of how the organization will operate and it becomes a key document for funders and donors when seeking major contributions. While a business plan is typically written for a product or service, there are stages in an organization's lifecycle when a business plan is critical, such as the start-up phase or expansion. Undertaking a business plan does not mean definitely undertaking the venture, but it is a way to help the organization to make such a decision. The resulting document summarizes the market analysis, operational and financial objectives for the near future (usually 1 – 3 years), overarching strategies, and metrics and milestones.
Before launching a new program or service, it is important for organizations to understand the environmental conditions affecting its potential outcomes. Market research is the process of analyzing information about the prospective market for a product or service. It includes research into the characteristics, location, and needs of the target market, the industry as a whole, and the competitive landscape.
Organizations change and evolve over time, making the process of assessment an important step in planning and decision-making. It allows for the opportunity to reflect on the pieces within the organization that are working well, as well as those that could be better. Assessments enable management to see where the organization stands, leverage its current assets, and make changes that will support its efficiency and effectiveness.
Perceptions give us perspective on where we are effectively relaying information, and where we could improve. A perception analysis helps agencies understand their strengths and challenges in communicating their brand by looking at how an organization is viewed by external parties, including clients, funders, the general public, collaborators, etc. and enables an organization to calibrate perception versus reality.
Before launching a new product, plan, or goal, organizations must understand their capacity to deliver successful outcomes. A feasibility analysis helps to determine this by looking at the validity of key assumptions, what risks are involved, and an agency’s probability of success.
Today’s environment is ever-changing in regard to funding sources, outcomes tracking, demographics, and more. For this reason, scenario planning is a valuable tool. It is the process of analyzing and documenting what future conditions/events are probable, what consequences and effects they would incur, and how to respond to and benefit from them. Scenario planning is particularly helpful in budgeting, anticipating funding shifts, or foreseeing changes in the needs or demographics of service populations.
|Organizational Realignment||Organizational Restructuring||
Organizations are not static and at times need to re-evaluate themselves. Organizational restructuring is the process of determining how to best align the structure, people, and processes of an organization when significant changes occur and/or are anticipated. Oftentimes, an analysis of an agency’s staffing responsibilities and skills and structure will ultimately help achieve its mission, as it will ensure that the right positions, people, and organizational structures are in place.
At times organizations find themselves in a period of transition or chaos that renders them financially unstable. A stabilization plan is a tool for such agencies to move toward financial stability in the shortto intermediate-term. It can be used as a guide for the development of long-term plans needed for complete financial recovery, and is designed to provide the organization's staff and board with a shared set of measurable, timed objectives for monitoring progress.
Across nonprofits in a particular region or subsector there is often an overlap in unmet needs, a duplication of services, or a recurrence in target audience. In such cases, coordinating services through the exploration and development of joint programming can result in greater impact and cost efficiency. These partnerships allow for better service delivery and greater financial efficacy for the partner organizations involved.
With limited resources and, at times, limited ability to hire expertise, nonprofits can collaborate in areas where they do not have a core competency and aim to increase their efficiency. In such cases we fund the exploration and implementation of a shared administrative service, which includes a formal agreement for contracting, exchanging, or sharing the service.
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) involving two or more organizations have been traditionally thought of as a reactive step to shore up finances or possibly address a succession vacuum. Leaders of healthy organizations can also consider M&A as a way to strengthen effectiveness, spread best practices, expand reach, and be more costeffective, making the best use of scarce resources. We support many varying levels of legal mergers and/or acquisitions.
Closing down a nonprofit can be a legally, financially, and emotionally complicated process. We provide funding and support for nonprofit dissolution, while being sensitive to the history and legacy of the organization.
Note: Management Assistant Grants (MAGs) are not made to cover fees and/or costs already incurred, or projects already under way, including capacity-building projects for which the organization has already signed contracts with its preferred provider. Additionally, The Forbes Funds does not provide operating, program, or staffing support.
Who Can Apply
An organization may qualify for a grant if it meets all of the following criteria:
- It is located in Allegheny County
- It is a 501(c)3 organization
- It is a human services and/or community development organization
- It will use a consultant to guide the project work
- It is willing to undertake a capacity-building challenge that is not already underway
- It is willing to meet the requirements of the application process, including the possible completion of an organizational assessment and financial scan
While we cannot provide financial support to every agency that approaches The Forbes Funds, we do consider it a priority to meet with and provide advice and guidance to CEOs and their Board regarding management capacity challenges and opportunities.
Grant Application Process & Deadlines
The Forbes Funds’ application process is designed to be a supportive and educational exercise for applicants. Our staff will work with you to determine the most appropriate scope of work, provide tools to help you assess your organizations financial picture, and support you through the submission of the application and supporting documents.
The Forbes Funds believes that requests for assistance are more than just completing an application. They are processes of discovery and learning, where we expect applicants to demonstrate commitment to their goals through this process.
Timeline for Grant Application
The Forbes Funds accepts Management Assistance Grant (MAG) requests on a rolling basis, our board of directors makes funding decisions on a quarterly basis for requests between $10,000 and $20,000. For grants below $10,000, requests are approved on a rolling basis. Due to the volume of applications, your organization's application may not necessarily be reviewed in the same quarter in which you have applied.
|Grant Meeting||Application Deadline|
To determine fit, contact email@example.com with a brief summary of your assistance need and how our support would enable your organization to succeed in meeting the objective of the project. This summary will help us determine eligibility before we work with you to complete a full application.
The full application process includes the following:
- Consultation with The Forbes Funds staff to determine fit and scope of a request for requests over $10,000. All requests require completion of an LOI.
- Completion of a financial dashboard using The Forbes Funds' financial scan tool. The three most recent fiscal audits and current financial statements will be needed.
- Completion of the grant application.
- The Forbes Funds will promptly notify the point of contact and/or the executive director of the organization once a decision has been made on the application through the online application system. These emails come through The Pittsburgh Foundation’s e-mail. Please add firstname.lastname@example.org to your address book to ensure they do not go to spam.
Applicants Should Demonstrate That...
- The organization has considered its capacity and management challenges and has outlined the most critical challenge.
- The organization has the capability and commitment to vigorously pursue recommendations that emerge from the project.
- The proposed project has specific observable outcomes as well as a plan to assess the impact of the project on the organization’s management and operational capacity.
- The organization clearly understands what The Forbes Funds supports through grant funding.
Approved grant recipients seeking to hire outside consultation will use the following process:
- The Forbes Funds encourages applicants to obtain at least two bids for the project and to work with The Forbes Funds to confirm expected outcomes, design, and cost. Our Consultant Directory and staff can help direct you to the consultants that may be a match.
- Once the contract with the consultant(s) has been fully executed, an initial kick-off meeting will be held with the applicant's Board Chair, Executive Director, other relevant staff, The Forbes Funds staff, and the consultant(s). The purpose of this meeting is to ensure that there is a clear and shared understanding of the goal, process, timeline, and deliverable(s).
- Depending on the length of the engagement, a mid-point meeting may also be held with the Executive Director and consultant(s) to review progress-to-plan and to iron out any obstacles or challenges that may have impacted the deliverable or timeframe. The need for a mid-point meeting will be decided at the kick-off meeting.
- Grants will be paid on a reimbursable basis. Grantees will submit payment requests through the online account online follow-up form. An invoice from the organization to The Forbes Funds, a copy of the consultant invoice to the organization and proof of payment will be reviewed.
- Upon completion of the project, grantees are required to submit a final report through their online account and to have a final review meeting with The Forbes Funds to discuss the project and lessons learned. Grantees are then required to complete an impact assessment and submit a financial dashboard one year after the final report.
Submit an LOI
The LOI application system uses The Pittsburgh Foundation’s online grant portal. If your organization already has an account with The Pittsburgh Foundation’s site, you can use the same login information. If not, please “Create New Account” and fill in the required information. Once your account has been created you can log in and “Apply” at the top left of the screen. Scroll down to find the application link for The Forbes Funds - Management Assistance Grants 2018. Click Apply to fill in and submitting the LOI. Once your LOI has been approved you will receive further instructions to complete the application.