As Loudoun supervisors work to revise how the county allocates nonprofit grant funding, the finance committee has recommended distributing the $51,274 that it put on hold in July.
If the full board approves the committee’s recommendation, the money would be divided evenly among 11 nonprofits that scored in the top third of applicants under a ranking system the county is currently working to replace. Each nonprofit would receive $4,661 on top of its previous fiscal year 2017 contribution.
The nonprofits to receive additional funding include Loudoun Cares for a total of $89,661; Leesburg Abused Women’s Shelter, $84,020; Loudoun Hunger Relief, formerly known as Loudoun Interfaith Relief, $54,260; OAR of Fairfax, $9661; Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington, $9,911; A Place to Be, $10,558; Brain Injury Services, $21,787; Capital Hospice, known as Capital Caring, $17,045; INMED Partnerships for Children, $56,673; Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers, $41,396; and Northern Virginia Family Service, $13,506.
County staff members say an ongoing nonprofit needs assessment will help the county decide how to revise its grant funding system. They also recommended spending the unallocated $51,274 to expand the scope of the needs assessment. The finance committee balked at the suggestion.
“When the board decided to do the study, it was for a certain amount of money, and the $51,000 was supposed to go to nonprofits,” said finance committee Chairman Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “I tend to think if we wanted to expand the scope of the study, then we can have that discussion, but we should fund it a different way.”
County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) agreed, telling the staff she’d asked about the $51,000 several times before and never heard it could go to the study instead of nonprofits.
Randall was also critical of the current system’s inclusion of literacy training under the “Recreation and Culture” area of need, which receives five percent of grant allocations, the lowest of any of the five categories into which nonprofits are currently divided.
“I’m not sure that I would consider literacy recreation and culture,” Randall said. “I think literacy is an absolute need.”
The current grant funding system ranks nonprofits in five categories into top, middle, and bottom tiers. Those nonprofits are then allocated funding based on the previous year, with funding increasing or decreasing by five percent for those in the top and bottom third, and level funding for those in the middle third. That system was created to depoliticize nonprofit grand funding decisions, but has been criticized for merely cementing the funding levels it inherited and preventing first-year grant applicants from receiving more than $5,000.
County staff members and supervisors have talked about the possibility of a result-based decision and a fresh start disregarding previous years’ funding. The nonprofit needs assessment is not expected to be complete before fall of 2018, meaning it will not be available for budget talks until fiscal year 2019 deliberations.
The committee voted 3-1-1 to allocate the remaining $51,274 evenly among those 11 charities, Letourneau opposed and Supervisor Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) absent.