Organizational Development – Text Guidelines

Organizational Development

Program Description

The Organizational Development grant provides grants of up to $10,000 for projects designed to strengthen the management or administration of nonprofit arts groups within the seven-county metro area: Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties. Activities must advance the mission of your group and have the potential for long-term impact on the organization.

The program intends to challenge the organization, infuse new thinking, or develop new systems to further the group’s development e.g.:

  • Board governance
  • Resource development (fundraising)
  • Financial planning or management
  • Communications/public relations
  • Racial equity plan creation or inclusion work
  • Access for people with disabilities
  • Strategic planning and/or issues
  • Audience development/marketing
  • Community needs assessment
  • Hiring a new employee or expanding the hours of a current employee
  • Succession planning
  • Website or database creation

MRAC funds applications where arts management (Organizational Challenge, Organizational Solution, Ability) and community (Community Need and Support, Equity and Inclusion) intersect.

Program Directors

Bethany Whitehead 

Important Dates

  • Application Deadline is March 2, 2020 11:59 PM
  • Panel Review is week of May 11, 2020
  • Earliest Grant Expenditure Date and Grant Notification Date is May 27, 2020
  • Latest Project End Date is June 30, 2021

Before Applying – Resources

The Metropolitan Regional Arts Council is a hands-on grantmaker and program directors want to help you prepare a strong application that will be ready for panel review. We strongly encourage you to reach out to the program director before you submit an application, especially if you are a first-time applicant in the grant program. Additional assistance is provided in the following ways:

  1. MRAC Program Directors are available for questions on eligibility and program intent, project idea development, grant attachment verification, and can, upon request, review your application materials in advance of the deadline.
  2. MRAC offers free grant application workshops 3 to 6 weeks before the deadline to learn about the grant program and to discuss project ideas. Check the online calendar for dates and times at
  3. You may visit, click on “Grants” and follow links to view “Recent Grant Awards” and request up to 3 previously successful applications per grant program to be emailed; contact your program director to have these sample grants sent.
  4. Visit to access templates, technical how-tos for the grant interface, links to sites to find demographic information, and a glossary of terms.
  5. The first Friday of the month from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. there are open office hours where you can drop in and have conversation with MRAC Program Directors. No RSVP is needed. Please check MRAC calendar in case of changes.

How to Apply and Eligibility

MRAC grant applications MUST be completed online and received by MRAC no later than 11:59:59 p.m. To access the online portal, visit and select ‘Manage My Organizational Grant.’ The online interface allows for Google Translate to access the application in a variety of languages. Groups should only use one organizational grant record, while there can be multiple users per organization. Contact MRAC with any difficulties accessing the online portal, but note that technical assistance is available only until 5:00 p.m. on the deadline day. We do not accept incomplete or late applications. Please read guidelines thoroughly to ensure eligibility.

All applicant groups AND project activities MUST be located within the 7-county (Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, Washington) Twin Cities metro area.

Applicant groups must be ONE of the following:

  • Federally tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organizations with annual operating expenses of less than $400,000.
  • Informal and/or unincorporated arts-focused groups with expenses of less than $400,000. The applicant group must have a board of directors or advisory committee that provides input on the project and oversight of the grant funds and must apply with a fiscal sponsor.

All Organizational Development applicants must also:

  • Have demonstrated two years of programming or service history by the grant deadline.
  • If the organization is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, the group must also be registered and active with the Minnesota Secretary of State as a Nonprofit Corporation on the grant deadline. Groups who are informal and using a fiscal sponsor do not need to be registered with the Secretary of State, but their fiscal sponsor must be active with the Minnesota Secretary of State as a Nonprofit Corporation on the grant deadline. Groups may verify status or register at
  • If the group has an in-progress MRAC Organizational Development or Capital grant, all activities and expenditures must be complete in their entirety by May 27, 2020.

Applicant groups cannot be:

  • Organizations registered with the MN Secretary of State as a profit-making Minnesota business (e.g. Business Corporation, Limited Liability Corporation, Limited Liability Partnership, MN Public Benefit Corporations, etc.).
  • Individual artists.
  • Public, private, alternative, charter, or home schools (this includes school support organizations such as PTAs, PTOs, school foundations, etc.).
  • Community education units may not apply for management related grants for their arts programs. However, a community education unit may serve as a fiscal sponsor.

This program does NOT fund:

  • Activities that have been offered in the same way and for the same purpose on an on-going basis. Examples: paying an employee’s wages for a job with tasks that have been completed previously; production and distribution of an annual report or marketing materials; grant writing; fundraising events; general marketing activities; general operating support. Please contact the program director with any questions on your project being eligible in this grant program before submitting an application.
  • Continuation of a project that has been funded by MRAC previously without significant justification of new need.
  • Projects that have received or are seeking support from any other MRAC grant program. However, groups may utilize a Management Consulting Fund grant as a precursor for an Organizational Development project, in which case the MCF grant must be complete prior to the OD earliest grant expenditure date.
  • Project Start Date: MRAC does not fund projects that are already underway. MRAC defines a project’s start date as the point at which the intended community is engaged, any items in the project budget have been expended, or financial and other commitments are made that set the project in motion (e.g. contracts are signed, materials printed or distributed, meetings have taken place, jobs have been posted).
  • Project End Date: MRAC funds received in FY19 cannot have activities that extend beyond June 30, 2021.
  • Activities that attempt to influence any state or federal legislation or appropriation; to support activities that are essentially for the religious socialization of the participants or audience; or discriminate against persons or groups.
  • Travel expenses to or from Minnesota. You may engage an out-of-state artist within your project, but their travel expense to get to or from Minnesota cannot be included in a MRAC request.
  • Expenses to purchase alcoholic beverages or to pay associated costs (servers, insurance, liquor licenses, etc.).

During each MRAC fiscal year (July 1 to June 30), groups may receive:

  • 1 Arts Project Support grant
  • 1 Arts Learning grant
  • 1 Organizational Support grant (Organizational Development or Capital)
  • 2 Management Consulting Fund grants

Groups can apply to both Organizational Support deadlines (Organizational Development or Capital) but may only receive one Organizational Support award per MRAC fiscal year.

Eligible groups that have an MRAC-funded project in process may apply for a subsequent grant in the same program category if the project from a previous fiscal year is completed before MRAC’s published earliest grant expenditure date for the new project. A Management Consulting Fund project must be complete before a new one is awarded.

Groups may not apply for funding in multiple grant programs for the same project. Each project may ONLY be funded by one MRAC grant.

Program Requirements

The following documents will be reviewed by the panel.

File Uploads

You will upload several files. Document uploads must be a MS Word, MS Excel, or PDF document. It is highly recommended to create an Application Packet within the grant interface to assure your documents uploaded correctly; errors in formatting may have an adverse affect on your application.

Format ALL upload documents as follows:

  • US Letter paper size (8.5 x 11) in portrait orientation with at least 0.75 inch margins
  • A text font equivalent to Times 12-point or larger (15 characters per inch)
  • Use criteria headers within the document, but do not use Word function Headers or Footers as this affects formatting

Required Files:

  • Narrative (one upload – no more than five pages)
  • Job Description (if applicable) (one upload – one page)
  • Consultant Resume (if applicable) (one upload – maximum two pages)
  • Equipment Purchase Bids (if applicable) (one upload – one page)
  • Project Personnel List (one upload – multiple pages)
  • Board of Directors/Advisory Committee (one upload – one page)
  • Project Expense Budget (one upload – one page)
  • Project Income Budget (one upload – one page)
  • Organizational Income and Expense (one upload – one page)
  • Fiscal Sponsor Letter – (if applicable)


The narrative portion of your application is designed to help you outline your organization’s mission and history as well as address each of MRAC’s five criteria: Community Need & Support, Equity & Inclusion, Organizational Challenge, Organizational Solution, Ability.

Provide enough information to help the review panel evaluate your project in relation to EACH criteria. Assume the panel is not familiar with your group, your discipline, nor the community you intend to serve, and use the narrative to provide this information. The panel will apply ALL five criteria to the application as a whole.

Mission and History

In about one paragraph, summarize your group’s purpose/mission and your arts programming history. How will this project advance your group’s mission?

Community Need and Support

  • How do you define your community? Describe the individuals this project will serve (i.e. artists, attendees, participants, etc.). Your community/communities are the people who are served or engaged by your project.
  • Describe the community this project will serve by describing the diversity of people within this community (e.g. racial, ethnic, cultural, age, gender, ability, geographic, and/or economic, etc.).
  • What shared interest, need, or demand exists within this community as it relates to your work? How will your project benefit the community that you have described?
  • In what ways have members of the community shown their support for your project (e.g. collaborations and partnerships; financial contributions; volunteer time; in-kind donation of services, supplies or space)?

Equity & Inclusion

  • Within the context of your community, describe how your project identifies and proactively addresses barriers to engaging historically marginalized, targeted, and underserved people and identities that may otherwise have limited access to your proposed activity. Examples might include:
    • IPOC (Indigenous people and People of Color including Native American, Black/African/African American, Afro Latinx, Caribbean, Chicanx/Mexican, Central American, South American, Middle Eastern/North African, Southeast Asian/Asian/Pacific Islander)
    • immigrants and/or refugees
    • economically disadvantaged individuals
    • people with disabilities
    • LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) people
  • Explain how your organization or group is best positioned to engage with and support the community you have described.
  • In what ways does your project engage and support members of the community you have described? How are they represented among your leadership, artists, and decision-makers?
  • In what ways has your group made attempts to be more equitable and inclusive?
  • If you are an organization or group that primarily serves people identified above, what are the unique ways in which you are engaging with members of your community that are not yet connected to your work?
  • In what ways does your organization or group ensure that people with disabilities can participate? Examples might include ADA accessible venue, ASL interpretation, audio described performance, large print programs, sensory tours, etc.
  • If there are financial costs associated with your project, what considerations are made for those who may find such costs a barrier? Examples might include ticket discounts, scholarships, waived membership dues, transportation reimbursements, stipends, etc.

Organizational Challenge

  • Describe the underlying situation – problem, opportunity, issue, or need – that your project intends to address. You must be able to name the problem/opportunity before you can accurately define a project.
  • What is compelling about this situation? How will addressing this important opportunity/need have a significant, long-term impact on your organization? How might this project lead to an enhanced ability for you to accomplish your artistic vision? Why is this a priority at this moment in time?

Organizational Solution

  • What is the solution your group proposes to address the organizational challenge?
  • What is your work plan and timeline? What activities will you undertake? How did you arrive at the solution? Who was involved in the planning? What are the specific activities or steps in this organizational development project? When will these activities take place and how long will they take to complete? Who will participate in this project (e.g. contractors, board, staff, volunteers)?
  • Who are the key personnel involved in this project? If current employees or volunteer staff will carry out the project, explain how it will be integrated into their workloads (e.g. shift of responsibilities, extra hours). If you are hiring a contractor, consultant, or a staff member, how will you assure legal employment requirements are upheld?
  • If your project includes equipment purchases, describe how the equipment will help you accomplish the overall goals of the project. If total equipment purchases, including supplies and service, are $1,000 or greater, a vendor bid form with three vendor bids needs to be uploaded and included as part of this application.


Do you have a demonstrated ability to carry out this project? Use this section to provide any additional useful information to demonstrate that this is a well-planned project that your group can clearly achieve. The panel will consider such things as:

  • Are the group’s employees/volunteers, board/advisory committee members adequately involved and qualified for their roles in this project?
  • Is the project clearly “doable” given your group’s resources, project budget, timeline, etc.?
  • Was there a reasonable process for selecting a consultant or contractor? If using a consultant, how was the consultant selected, and what will their role be in the project? What specific skills, prior consulting experiences, or familiarity with your community make this consultant the best fit for this project? If hiring an employee or contractor, what is the process and the timeline for attracting a new employee? If hiring a contractor or an employee, how was this employee designation determined? (MRAC maintains a database of consultants and can provide assistance in finding qualified individuals if assistance is needed)
  • How will you evaluate the project and its outcomes in relation to your stated organizational goals?
  • How do these outcomes reflect that this is the best solution for the situation, challenge, or opportunity?
  • How will anticipated organizational change be sustained after this grant?

Job Description

If you plan to hire a new employee as a result of this project and will be posting the job externally, attach a job description of no more than one page. If you are hiring someone internally or plan to hire a short-term contractor or consultant, you do not need to include this document.

Consultant Resume

Upload a maximum two-page resume of your consultant. This information should include details that demonstrate the consultant’s ability to carry out the organization’s proposed project and the experience of working with similar sized organizations. If you are hiring more than one consultant, a two-page resume can be included for each consultant, but multiple pages must be submitted in one upload.

Equipment Purchase

If your total equipment purchases, including supplies and service, are $1,000 or more, use the template on the online application to describe the equipment and related supplies and services, with estimated costs. Provide a summary of the names and bid amounts of at least three vendors from who you have obtained competitive estimates or bids on all equipment. Do not include the actual bids. Include a brief statement explaining with which vendor your group intends to proceed.

Project Personnel

Upload a list of the key people and groups involved in your project. Briefly describe their qualifications for the project. Do not include the mission or history of your organization in this section. You may submit up to one page of information per person/group. Multiple pages must be submitted in one upload. Individuals and organizations named on this list and in the narrative must know at the time of the application that they are included in the project.

Board of Directors or Advisory Committee

You are required to have a board of directors or advisory committee, encompassing three individuals as a minimum. Upload a one-page list of your board/committee members indicating their profession, organizational affiliation and/or area of expertise. This is a public document so you may choose to omit contact information.

Project Expense Budget

Your project’s total expense must equal your project’s total income. Download and complete the Excel budget form or generate your own form with the same information in the same format. Once completed, upload a one-page project budget expense. Include all cash costs. Do not include unrealized income such as scholarships or in-kind support.

Project Income Budget

Your project’s total income must equal your project’s total expense. Download and complete the Excel budget form from the MRAC website or generate your own form with the same information in the same format. Once completed, upload a one page project budget income. Do not include in-kind goods and services. Include all cash income (cash income is defined as money, i.e. cash, credit card, check, being received).

Project Expense Matching Funds. For every ten MRAC dollars requested, you must match or raise one dollar from a cash source other than Minnesota State funding sources. Match sources may include general operating funds, past surpluses, other grants, and earned income or revenue you plan to raise specifically for this project. The MRAC grant request must be included in your Project Budget Income.

Check your math and budget figures carefully. Project budget errors or ineligible expenses, including in the notes section, may affect your MRAC request or result in your application being deemed ineligible.

Organizational Income-and-Expense Statement

Download and complete the Excel Spreadsheet form with income-and-expense amounts for your last fiscal year (must be a 12-month period). Include the dates of your last fiscal year (the entirety of this date range must be in the past). Please describe the circumstances surrounding a substantial year-end surplus or deficit in the space provided on the Excel Spreadsheet, or within your Narrative. If you submit a Quickbooks Profit & Loss or another form developed by the organization, assure that it fits on one page and the same information is presented.

This is one upload with no more than one page. This document should be an accurate overview of income and expenses for the organization or group and MRAC expects to see surpluses or deficits on this form.

Fiscal Sponsor Letter

This is one upload for informal groups only. A fiscal sponsor is a tax-exempt organization that receives MRAC grant monies and manages the financial aspects of the project on behalf of a group that does not have tax-exempt status. Your fiscal sponsor must be a federally tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in the Minnesota, be registered with the IRS with a Minnesota address, and must be active as a Nonprofit Corporation with the Minnesota Secretary of State.

You will need to upload a letter on the fiscal sponsor’s letterhead that outlines the agreement between your organization and the fiscal sponsor. The letter must include the following:

  • The name of the organization and the project being proposed
  • Fiscal sponsor’s EIN which is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number
  • The mission of the applicant group
  • Signature of the fiscal sponsor contact
  • Dated within three months of the grant deadline

Outcomes and Evaluation

Within the online grant interface, in addition to demographic information about your group and intended participants, you will be asked to submit the proposed outcomes and the evaluation plan for the project. This is for reporting and tracking purposes and is not shared with the panel, but is shared with the Minnesota State Arts Board. It is important for the application to also include this information within the grant narrative.

Outcomes Proposed

In two sentences, describe the measurable outcomes you hope to achieve through this project. What skill, knowledge, attitude, behavior or condition will change? Who will be affected by the change? Your answer may be brief. Examples of outcomes may include: “Artistic Director is able to complete more tasks and reach 15 new donors because the new marketing staff member has taken on new work.” or “Website traffic has increased 10% and page views have increased 25% since the new site is launched.”

Evaluation Plan

In two sentences, describe your methods for evaluating your anticipated outcomes. Examples of evaluation methods may include, but are not limited to: Audience/participant surveys, Board Meeting Discussions, Data tracking, etc.

Review and Decision Process

  1. MRAC staff review all applications for eligibility.
  2. A peer review panel reviews all eligible applications. The panel meetings are ALL open to the public; and applicants will be notified of the meeting; and are encouraged to attend. Panel recordings are shared in your grant record within one week of review.

  3. The panel submits its recommendations to the MRAC board of directors who make the final decision on funding.

  4. Appeals must be made in writing within 30 days of the notification of the board decision. Contact MRAC for a copy of the appeal process.

If Funded

  • An authorized signer for your group or organization will need to complete an online grant agreement.
  • A W9 form will need to be uploaded by the applicant. If fiscally sponsored you will need a W9 from your fiscal sponsor.
  • Funds are sent via check to the address on file in the online account within one month of the signed agreement being signed.
  • The group will need to use the appropriate language and logos on all promotion of the funded activities.
  • Groups are required to spend the entirety of the MRAC grant award. In cases where a match was required, groups are required to raise and spend the match requirement as well the grant award.
  • An online final report is due 2 months after the project end date that was entered at the time of application. You must show expenditures at or greater to the budgeted amount or funds will need to be returned.
  • Any project changes to the activities, timeline, or budget need to be approved in writing by the program director. Reach out with any questions or changes to the project before changing the project, as not all project changes can be approved.
  • Overdue final reports may affect future eligibility to apply for and/or receive MRAC funding.