Comprehensive Organizational Assessment & Reports (COAR) Grant Program
Nonprofit organizations grow and mature through a series of stages in their life cycle – from “simple” at start-up through a “moderately complex” growth stage and on to a “highly complex” organization. One type of capacity building is the organizational assessment. The organizational assessment provides a systematic analysis of the current state of the organization in its key capacity areas. It can help the nonprofit leadership and staff take an in-depth look at where it stands in this developmental journey and how it can improve its management and governance practices to sustain and grow its work in the future. Moving successfully through these stages requires that organizations not only operate the programs well, but also continue to strengthen other aspects of their structure – from their board and human resources to fundraising and planning. The assessment evaluates strengths as well as areas that need improvement. Most importantly, it will guide the organization in developing priorities for making the organization stronger and determine the next steps and action plan that will address the priority issues. This work sets the stage for the board and staff to lead the organization to the next level of growth and development in the future.
MMF approaches this work through a systems-theory, cultural equity lens. With the help of a specially trained cohort of consultants experienced in organizational development, the MMF Comprehensive Organizational Assessment & Report (COAR) grant program is available for agencies serving any one of the MMF focus areas. These are shorter (4-6 months) capacity building projects designed to jump start change.
The COAR process includes
- Preliminary interviews with board chair and senior staff, ED set up the group interview session
- Other interviews as needed
- Financial analysis to determine financial health
- 360-degree evaluations include peer or with colleague organizations to determine external perception
- One 3 -4 hour-long full group interview with key stakeholders
The Report identifies
- Key strengths and competitive advantages
- Organizational challenges
- Areas of opportunity
- Recommendations for strengthening management, governance, and operations
From the assessment process and report, the agency will have a sense of the functional areas in which it is strong and those areas which inhibit its effectiveness in accomplishing its mission. In addition, the organization's stakeholders are more likely to be prepared to engage in the development process because they were involved in the assessment process. Some of the systems-based information learned from the assessment process include:
- How does the organization learn?
- How does it make decisions?
- How does it process the outside world inside the organization?
- What are the peculiarities of the field it is a part of and how is it affected by those peculiarities?
- What phase of development is it in and what are the stories it tells about itself?
MMF Cohort of Consultants
The goal of the COAR program is to strengthen nonprofit organizational infrastructure and the nonprofit leaders to become more aware of its core capacities, become more impactful in achieving mission and attain long-term financial stability. Having the right consultant is very important to the project’s success. Consultant “fit” with the board and leadership staff is required to build trust and confidence in the capacity work ahead. Once approved, the grantee organization will be matched with one of the MMF’s COAR consultants. With the experienced help of the MMF consultant, the staff and board will be guided through a systematic analysis of the current state of the organization in its key capacity areas and ultimately, lead to an agreement among all participants on the priority areas needed for the organization to develop to the next level of organizational growth.
The MMF COAR consultants are highly experienced professionals with demonstrated proficiency in organizational development and system-theory based approach to conducting assessments. They have first-hand experience leading nonprofits as executive directors and are experienced consultants who understand the complex nature of how nonprofit organizations grow and mature through a series of stages in their life cycle – from “simple” at start-up through a “moderately complex” growth stage and on to a “highly complex” organization. They are uniquely able to help leadership staff and board take an in-depth look at where it stands in this developmental journey and how it can improve its management and governance practices to sustain and grow its work in the future.
Key Responsibilities of the Consultant and Executive Director
The Executive Director is responsible for overseeing the project, updating the Fund on the work’s progress, paying the consultants and submitting the final report(s) by the end of the grant period. At the first few meetings, both consultant and executive director will establish clear and specific expectations upfront and communicate freely to maintain open, honest communication.
It is the responsibility of the organization’s Executive Director to ensure the stated expectations with MMF are met throughout the consulting process and that the desired outcomes are produced. The executive director is responsible for arranging the interviews. Further, the executive director should provide consultant with all necessary phone numbers and addresses for interviews as needed and verify who will schedule group and smaller interviews.
The MMF Consultant is responsible for managing the project’s timeliness for all agreed deliverables. The consultant will provide a professional notetaker during group interviews to help capture important shared information. To ensure that information shared with the consultant remains confidential, the MMF staff will refrain from discussing details of assessment learnings with the consultant. MMF will receive a final executive summary from the grantee organization after the project is complete. Both grantee organization and consultant can terminate the contract if its determined necessary by either consultant and/or organization. The Fund should however, be notified in advance.
COAR Capacity Building Grant Application Requirements
- Before applying, the nonprofit leadership staff and board should first discuss the organizational readiness, grant purpose, expectations and process and timing for requesting and implementing the capacity building project. You may also reach out to MMF staff with any questions in advance.
- Applications for COAR Grants are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. A preview of the application form is available here.
- Eligible nonprofit organizations must have been in operation for at least three years and have annual revenue of at least $75,000, excluding in-kind donations and services.
- Applicants must demonstrate that significant percent of services offered are aligned with MMF Focus areas.
- Older Adults Living Independently - Placing a high priority on providing services to older adults, ages 65 and older
- Immigrants & Refugees
- Human Trafficking Prevention
- Veterans - Placing high priority on providing services to post-9-11 veterans
- Advocacy & Coalition Building
- Allowable funding for the COAR grant program is up to $9,000.
- Decisions on COAR Grants are generally made within six to eight weeks from submission.
- Tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
- Located in Greater St. Louis Bi-State Region (8 counties in Illinois and 8 counties in Missouri)
One-time events that do not build long-term capacity (such as fundraising events or conferences)
To apply for a COAR grant, log into your organization's account in the system with our secure online grant management system and use your logon credentials (email and password).
Please include the following:
- IRS 501(c)(3) designation letter
- Annual Organizational Budget
- Most recent audited financial statement for past two years
- Most recent Strategic Plan
The Status Report is due thirty (30) days after the project period ends and will be available online. Included will be the following information:
- Executive summary: The executive summary should describe the overall findings during this assessment stage including the 3-4 key priority capacity needs as priority goals for this second phase as it relates to the organization’s overall organizational growth. Include a listing of who participated in the assessment process; clearly and succinctly explain the organization’s priority capacity need in relation to other identified organizational needs.
- Key strengths the organization plans to capitalize upon.
- Outline of the strategies the organization will undertake to address the priority areas, including timeline.