March 12, 2018

What counts as a “collaborative grant” for Meyer?

A crowd gathers near Dawson Park in North Portland for a climate justice rally lead by a coalition of Meyer grantees: OPAL, Oregon Just Transition Alliance, APANO, Beyond Toxics, Environmental Justice Oregon, PCUN, Unite Oregon & Rural Organizing Project.

Meyer believes that we have to work better together in order to achieve our mission of a flourishing and equitable Oregon, and we know that working collaboratively to tackle complex issues together takes resources. We have structured our 2018 Annual Funding Opportunity to encourage and support collaboration across organizations in addition to funding the work of individual organizations. We do this in the following ways:

  • Organizations may submit an additional grant application on behalf of a collaborative even if they are also applying for grant to support their own organization's work or they have an active Meyer grant.
  • Organizations applying on behalf of a collaborative may request up to $250,000 for projects in order to accommodate the scope of work being tackled by large-scale collaborations and, in many situations, to support the participation of multiple organizations.
  • Organizations applying on behalf of an emerging collaborative — meaning they are just getting started in their work together — may apply for a planning grant of up $35,000.

What do we mean by a collaborative?

To determine eligibility for collaborative grants (not the planning grants), we ask that organizations applying on behalf of a collaborative certify that the following three things are true:

  • The collaborative structure and priorities are inclusive and demonstrate an equitable approach.
  • The roles and responsibilities of collaborative partners are clearly defined and demonstrate an equitable approach.
  • The decision-making processes demonstrate an equitable approach.

What qualifies for collaborative grants?

With the grant funds that are available to collaboratives, we are looking to support collaborations that have established partners' roles and responsibilities, that have clarity of purpose, and where all partners are committed and on the same page. We also want to support collaborations that have integrated equity into the way the collaborative operates in terms of who is at the table, how decisions are made and how power, resources and responsibilities are shared among partners. Although we don't have a hard definition of a "large collaborative," projects that will be competitive for grants at the top end of our scale generally have a large budget, a significant number of partners, a demonstrated history of successfully working together and are working on large-scale change.

As with all applications, strong collaborative requests demonstrate clear alignment with a portfolio goal and associated outcomes. We look for policy, systems change and movement building strategies that are grounded in the perspective of the communities and constituencies they represent, and we will assess collaborative requests based on our values and equity commitment.

If you are thinking about a collaborative proposal, consider attending our information session webinar on collaborative proposals on Monday, April 2. Finally, below you can find some answers to common questions about collaborative applications for those of you thinking about taking advantage of this opportunity.

What does Meyer mean by "roles and responsibilities of partners are clearly defined"?

When we say "roles and responsibilities of partners are clearly defined," we mean that the partners all have a clear understanding, in writing, for how the collaboration will move its work forward. This can include a defined decision-making process, defined membership and leadership levels (including how new membership will be determined), which partners will bring specific resources to the table (staff, financial, etc.), and how resources will be shared among the partners. Unless you are requesting a planning grant, we ask you to share your Memoranda of Agreement (MOA), letters of commitment or similar documents that your collaborative has in place to capture your joint agreements and understandings.

What exactly does Meyer mean by the phrase "demonstrates an equitable approach"?

There are a number of ways that different collaboratives do this. Examples of ways that collaboratives demonstrate this are:

  • Clarity about a shared purpose and goals for the collaborative and that communities most affected by the issues you aim to address have informed and shaped this.
  • All partners have a voice in decision-making.
  • Clarity about resource sharing. Even if the request is for Meyer funds to only go to one partner, we will consider the collaborative's overarching approach to sharing resources. We trust the collaborative to determine how grant funds can best support its collaborative effort, but we will look for some indication that the different needs of partner organizations to participate as full partners have been considered.
  • Co-creation of work plan and budgets.
  • Clarity about ownership of work products and credit for work completed and accomplishments.
  • Commitments of different partner representatives to participate and commitments of resources they are contributing.

How does Meyer define the difference between a collaborative, a partnership and a contractual relationship?

For our Annual Funding Opportunity, we will prioritize funding for collaboratives tackling systems change work and problems that can't be accomplished by organizations working in isolation and doing "business as usual." An application generally won't be considered a collaborative for our purposes when one or more organizations are signing on to support a policy agenda of a lead organization. We also don't consider contractual relationships between nonprofits as "collaboratives" where one organization has hired one or more other organizations as contractors to provide specific services.

Do the following types of applicants meet the criteria for collaborative proposals?

  • Collaborations between separate programs that operate independently but are part of the same umbrella organization? (A: No)
  • Coalitions that have come together around a specific short-term project or campaign? (A: Yes, if power-sharing and working together toward a shared goal — not just signing names onto a list of supporters)
  • Coalitions that function as a program of one organization? (A: Yes, if involving multiple organizations, power-sharing, collective decision-making and working together toward a shared goal)

How can funds be used?

Although we are open to considering a variety of uses, most often funds support the time of partners to participate in collaborative activities, staffing support to coordinate communication and the work of the collaborative and/or consultant support to advance the collaborative's agenda.

Still have questions? Please join us at our April 2 virtual information about collaborative proposals (RSVP here) or contact us at questions [at] mmt.org.

Mike