Collage of many Community Grants partners doing excellent work in Greater Miami.

The Power of General Operating, Multi-Year Grants

As the hub for generosity in Miami, The Miami Foundation feels responsible for having our ear to the ground to understand the needs of our community’s changemakers and nonprofits, and to use that information to guide the way our community gives back. 2022 was a year of deep learning for the Foundation. We dedicated more than 500 hours to listening to our nonprofit partners – using that time to deeply understand what they need most as frontline social service organizations and how we could best support their missions. 

The feedback was consistent, and it was loud and clear – local nonprofits resoundingly told us that the best gift a funder can provide is trust and unrestricted, multi-year support

As we digested this feedback and reflected on what we could do as Miami’s community foundation, we decided to make bold choices as it relates to Community Grants, our signature annual grant program. The 2023 cycle, which opens today for applications, will be radically different. For the first time ever, all grants will be awarded as two-year unrestricted, general operating grants to help build your mission and support your sustainability.   This shift will enable funded organizations to use the grant dollars to simply advance their missions – whether it is for paying for overhead, growing programs, or investing in capacity. The multi-year support will give the grant partners a chance to take a break from writing grant applications and do what they do best: the work.   

These major shifts mirror the major changes being made by foundations across the county. In an effort to be more responsive to nonprofit needs, more grant makers are choosing trust-based philanthropy models.  Recognizing the inherent power imbalance between foundations and nonprofits, trust-based philanthropy encourages funders to approach their relationships with grant partners from a place of trust, humility, and transparency. 

These significant changes would not be possible without the support of our funding partners and our Board.  Special thanks to our biggest partners, The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation and Miami-Dade County, for their commitment to providing multi-year funding to us for this effort so we, in turn, can commit to multi-year funding for Community Grants. Our Board has given us their blessing and trust to pre-commit endowment funds in order to make multi-year awards. 

We are making big changes to our application questions, and we want every nonprofit to have the best shot possible at succeeding. We recognize that some organizations may not have experience or staff capacity to write strong proposals, and we want to help.   

  • Office Hours: The Community Engagement team will be offering 1:1 office hours to applicants to answer questions about this year’s application and the opportunity to get to know organizations that may not be on our radar. Sign up here.  
  • Coaching: We will be partnering with Radical Partners to offer grant writing workshops for organizations that want some extra tips and tricks on how to write a successful general operating proposal.  Sign up information coming soon. 
  • Spreading the Word: We will be out in community attending events where we know our nonprofits applicants already are to share information about the program and answer questions from the community. 
  • Webinars: Finally, we will host a webinar on Thursday, February 2, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. to provide an overview of the 2023 Community Grants program. It will be recorded and available to watch here after the session. Sign up here.

Not everything in the 2023 Community Grants program is changing. The issue areas remain largely the same – there are six main areas of opportunity that we have endowed funds to support. Each year, we update the program guidelines to ensure that we are focusing funds to meet the most pressing needs of the community within the designated issued area.  This year, the Sustainable Environment category will see the biggest shifts in recognition of the increased funding that we have available this year to support environmental education thanks to our new partnership with Miami-Dade County.  Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post to learn more. 

Thank you to our nonprofit partners who have been candid with us about their needs and a special thanks to our 2022 Community Advisory Council and our 2023 Community Grants Advisors for helping to inform this program redesign. We seek to constantly listen, learn, and show up for community in the ways that it needs us to. 

Visit our Community Grants 2023 webpage here to download the program guidelines and access the online application.  Apply by Friday, March 10, 2023. 

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