While there are legal requirements for nonprofit organizations around transparency and disclosure of financial information, there can also be some grey areas where ethical decisions aren’t as clear. For instance, it can be tempting to apply for and accept funding anywhere you can get it. But what if you serve clients who are struggling with substance use, and a potential funder is known for contributing to the opioid crisis? If accepting money means you are straying from your mission, or if you have any doubt about the morality of doing business with a certain corporation, it may not be worth the financial benefit. Your goal should be to build funder relationships that you can stand behind and feel good about. Here, we are going to explore a few other ethical dilemmas you may run across when building relationships with funders.
National Endowment for the Arts – National Folklife Network
If your organization is interested in working with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to build and manage a formal network that supports the unique local and regional cultural traditions found throughout the United States, this funding opportunity might be for you. The NEA recently opened applications for the National Folklife Network (NFN) cooperative agreement to select an organization, or “cooperator,” to establish and administer the NFN. The NFN will assist each of seven regional cohorts through training, fieldwork, convenings, collaborations, and cultural asset mapping.
The topic of ethics in grants is incredibly broad, as there are often many moving parts and people involved with grant awards. The fund-seeking agency might have a variety of staff members contributing to the process: the executive director, program staff, finance staff, a grant writer, maybe even the board of directors. And then, of course, if the agency receives an award, there are ethical considerations for managing the sometimes very large sums of money. Once again, there might be a host of individuals carrying out the program activities, reporting progress, expending the funds, and so on. In other words, the agency is responsible for ensuring ethical practices across many levels of a grant award.
But for the purposes of this discussion, I want to back up a bit. What about some of the ethics that go into researching and writing the proposal?
United States Department of Agriculture – Food and Nutrition Services
Is your organization, local school district, or state agency interested in student nutrition and agricultural education? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently opened its annual Farm to School funding opportunity through its Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) office. This grant program, in alignment with the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, aims to create farm to school programs that provide eligible schools with access to local foods. Let’s take a closer look at this opportunity.
Health Resources and Services Administration – Office of Rural Health Policy
Does your organization deliver health care services to rural communities? The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently opened a funding opportunity through its Rural Health Care Services Outreach Program. This is a community-based grant program intended to enhance health care delivery in rural areas by improving access to services, adapting to changes in the overall health care environment, and enriching the health of rural communities. Let’s take a closer look at this grant program.
We live in a world where, as consumers, we can purchase literally anything with a quick search and a few clicks. The rise of online shopping and next-day delivery has made it easier than ever to go on a shopping splurge without seriously weighing the costs and benefits of the newest gadget or the impact it will have on our personal finances.
When a grant is awarded to an organization, the program staff may enthusiastically load up their online shopping carts with everything outlined in the grant budget. There is certainly a time and place for efficient procurement of approved supplies and services. In fact, federal law requires grantees minimize the time elapsing between the receipt of grant funds and the payment for allowable expenditures (2 CFR 200.305(b)). It is important for program staff to quickly implement the grant award, and typically, this means doing a little shopping.
National Endowment for the Humanities – Office of Digital Humanities
Attention humanities folks with an upcoming digital project! If your program is seeking funding for an innovative, experimental, or challenging digital project – whether in the early start-up phase, sustainability phase, or anywhere in between – you might be interested in this opportunity. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recently opened applications for the Digital Humanities Advancement Grants (DHAG) to support scholarly research, exploration of methodologies, development of software/technology, and other digital projects that enhance scholarship, teaching, and public programming in the humanities.
It’s normal and often encouraged to seek multiple funding opportunities for a single program, often referred to as braided funding (see Braiding Funds without Getting Tied Up In Knots – Approaching Budgets with Pre-Award and Post-Award In Mind by Julie Alsup, GPC). You might even request more funds than you need to run a program with the expectation that one or more proposals will fall through. As nonprofit organizations that belong to and are supported by the public, we should always be looking for new funding streams in case an existing source should dry up. But what if you ask for more than you need, and all the funders decide you shall receive?
United States Department of Health and Human Services – Health Resources and Services Administration
Does your organization work to address substance use disorder in rural communities? The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently posted information about a forecasted funding opportunity with its Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP). RCORP is a multi-year initiative that focuses on reducing the morbidity and mortality of substance use disorder (SUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD) in rural communities. This particular opportunity focuses on RCORP-Implementation grants. Let’s take a closer look at this forecasted grant program, using information from the (closed) funding opportunity announcement from an earlier 2020 cycle.
United States Department of Health and Human Services – Family and Youth Services Bureau Street Outreach Program
Is your program seeking funding to provide street-based outreach and education for runaway or homeless youth? The Department of Health and Human Services Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) recently posted information about a forecasted funding opportunity with its Street Outreach Program (SOP). The SOP’s purpose is to provide prevention and intervention services for runaway or street youth or youth experiencing homelessness who either have been or are at risk for becoming victims of sexual abuse, exploitation, or trafficking. Let’s take a closer look at this forecasted opportunity, using information from the closed 2020 funding opportunity announcement from this past spring.