The success of our community depends on the success of our nonprofit organizations.  How can your nonprofit have a bigger impact in the community?  What changes can you make to better meet your mission, both now and in the future?  These are the questions that the Innovation and Impact grants are designed to address.  

Goal:  The Innovation and Impact program seeks to increase the capacity of a nonprofit to make a measurable improvement in the community. These competitive awards are made to those Shiawassee-based nonprofits that are committed to a new, transformational, and/or collaborative effort to carry out their mission. That is, how can a nonprofit become more impactful, effective, and sustainable in its work?

This “stretch” effort requires identifying, and making, changes in governance, management, and operations, as well as seeking out collaboration with others.  The Cook Family Foundation is committed to provide significant support and funding to support this transformation.  There are no restrictions on the amount or allowed uses of grant funds (beyond those Grant Limitations that apply to all our grants).  Grant proposal may be for small amounts for a short-term project, or large and multi-year requests. 

Support: The Nonprofit Network is available to provide consultation, advice, and assistance in the development, implementation, and evaluation of Innovation and Impact Grants.

Grant Application Process:

The Idea (Phase I):  Grantees will first conduct a visioning session among staff and board to help identify the best opportunity for organizational innovation and community impact. This should build on previous assessments, strategic plans, and past successes of the organization. The strongest propositions will demonstrate a significant degree of involvement from the board of directors.  Attention should be given to opportunities for growth, recognition of barriers to progress, re-evaluation of current procedures and identification of potential partners.   The Nonprofit Network will provide up to 10 hours of consulting services for this work.

At the end of this process, the nonprofit will submit a brief (1-2 pages) written proposal and its executive director and board member will make a brief presentation (no more than 20 minutes) of the proposal. An in-person dialogue with Foundation board, staff, and consultants will follow. A decision on approval to proceed to Phase II will be received within one week. 

The Stretch Process (Phase II) :  The second part of the program will be to develop a detailed grant proposal for the idea pitched at the promotional meeting with the Foundation. The Stretch process will not only help the organization understand the necessary components of a good grant application, but also assist in “seeing around corners” and identifying and mitigating the issues that might prevent success.  Examples of this activity might include development of leadership, enhancing internal or partnership procedures, adding new technology, exploring new funding streams, re-assigning staff roles and responsibilities, or adding volunteer capacity.  

Phase II will result in the application for funding from the Cook Family Foundation (and perhaps other sources). Funds can be requested for staffing, technology upgrades, facility improvements, professional services, public promotion, or other additions of capacity. There are no limits on funding amounts, allowed uses of funds, or length of grant period. However, the larger and or more complex the grant request, the greater the need for additional funding partners to ensure success of the project.

The application must meet the following requirements  (the Nonprofit Network will provide up to 20 hours of additional consulting time to support the development of a grant application):

  • Idea Impact: if implemented, how will the community be better?  What data will the nonprofit collect in order to measure success?  What goals, some of which should be quantified, have been set for the program/project to achieve?
  • Capacity Building: what internal organizational changes are proposed so as to ensure a successful project and a longer-term transformation?
  • Partners:  who will partner with the nonprofit on the project?  Explain what partners were sought and why (or why not) selected
  • Budget:  uses and sources of funds
  • Sustainability: how will program/project continue after grant funds are expended?  What is the plan to build sustainability over the grant period?
  • Timeline and Evaluation: When might the desired impact be realized and which populations may benefit?   What are the stages of the project/program and how will progress be evaluated during and after?  


Whenever the nonprofit is ready it may submit an application for an Innovation and Impact grant.  Grants will be awarded based on the strength of the idea and the evidence presented for likely successful implementation.  The following criteria will be used to evaluate the application:

  1. Potential for community improvement and impact
  2. Potential for organizational growth and sustainability of effort
  3. Proven organizational effectiveness and readiness  
  4. Partnership opportunity or participation in existing collaborations

 

Implementation (Phase III):  Grants can be awarded for on a one-time or multi-year basis.  A grant agreement will be developed and signed that details the timeline and quantified goals of the project; interim milestones (If necessary) may also be set.   Also, an evaluation process will be required at the end of the grant period; multi-year grants will also require mid-term evaluation.  The Nonprofit Network will be able to provide additional consulting time to support this phase which would be determined at the time of award of funds on an individual organization basis.

Eligibility: open to any nonprofit who is a member in the Cook Family Foundation’s NonProfit Capacity Building Program. Other nonprofits, including those located in Shiawassee County and others based outside the community, local governments, agencies, school districts, civic groups, and other associations can participate in the program in partnership with a lead nonprofit.