Archive for ◊ March, 2009 ◊

15 Mar 2009 Grants Program
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The City of Steinbach Grants Program that we go through each year is an area that I struggle with.  The process, while complicated, does offer a process that gives us more information regarding who, what, where of the applicants.

The opinions offered here are all mine not those of council.

We provide grant funding each year to community groups who fill out the grant application form.  this last year we set the dollar limit to $450,000 in total funding.  We overspent, providing approx $500,000 to community groups.  What that means is, that difference in money of $50,000, needs to be found elsewhere in the budget.

Some of my struggles with the process are in how we hold or don’t hold the community groups accountable to the funding received.  At no point do we ask nor receive an explanation of how those dollars where spent.  The granting application form does ask for that information from previous years but at no point are those groups held accountable.

Some organizations like YFC Back Stage, Helping Hands, Arts Council, Library and others do have measureable ways that we can hold them accountable.  We do get regular reports from the Library board as we have representation on that board. 

One of our largest grants we provided was to the Steinbach Chamber of Commerce of $117,000.  My issue here is that in my opinion we have no way to hold them accountable to the funding that they receive.  I have not understood how to hold them accountable nor do we get a report of how they spent those dollars.

Like in many other things it comes down to putting a set of expectations in to place so that everyone understands.

Like for example we could

  1. except for City programs like the Library where by law we have a commitment no organization can recieve more than 20% of it’s operation budget (a $100,000 operating budget can’t be granted more than $20,000)
  2. any organization can ask for additional funding for special programs or events that involve the city as a whole, but no funding to be more than 50% of that program or event
  3. within one calander year of receiving grant funding a report must be submitted to council regarding the success of the program or event

These are just some of the ideas that might make some sense in trying to come to grips with how we fund different organizations and community events.