As everyone has heard many times before, one definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting to get separate results.

Well, based on what happened – again – this year, some Guilford County officials should be in an asylum.

As with several times this century, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners approved, in the middle of the fiscal year, a policy for funding non-profit organizations in the community – and, like ever time before, when it came time to adopt a budget, they threw that policy out the window.

In early 2023, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, at the request of County Manager Mike Halford, gave the go ahead for the development of an intricate policy for giving out county money to community-based organizations, and staff spent a tremendous amount of time both creating the plan and then later vetting those non-profits that asked for money.

The policy was supposed to remedy the haphazard way the commissioners just handed out money to organizations that were “pet projects” of certain commissioners who wanted them in the budget before they would vote for that budget.

The policy called for a panel of county department representatives “most closely affiliated with the proposed service” to review applications and recommend which ones should be funded and which should not.

Last week, when it came time for the Board of Commissioners to adopt a fiscal 2023-2024 county budget, the commissioners threw out their own policy that they had adopted unanimously previously in the year, and the new budget includes non-profits that didn’t meet the requirements of the policy for funding.

The requirements established by the earlier adopted policy called for things such as meeting a deadline for submitting applications for funding and providing audits in some cases.  It also called for the non-profits to provide “a thorough overview of organizational structure and capacity, intended program outcomes, and detailed demographic data on the groups or individuals served with ongoing or planned programming.”

The county’s policy may not have entirely been pointless because there are now some established non-profit reporting requirements throughout the fiscal year that hopefully will be followed.

This isn’t the most effort that’s gone into a non-profit funding policy by the Board of Commissioners.  Nearly two decades ago, the board held many meetings – some lasting over five hours– and hired mediators to host those meetings.  The board and county staff put in a huge amount of work into that policy before adopting it and then completely ignoring it when it came time to adopt a budget.