The Guilford County Board of Commissioners has adopted a new policy for funding Community-Based Organizations (CBO’s) – generally, nonprofits that seek county funds to provide services that benefit the public.

In the past, the only real rule for groups getting county funds was finding a majority of commissioners to approve the funding when the budget passes each June.  Now, however, the Board of Commissioners has once again established a policy and reaffirmed it – and the interesting thing to watch will be whether the board, this time around, adheres to its self-imposed policy.

In the past, the commissioners have approved funding requests that have come in at the 11th hour and, in some cases, money has gone to groups that some commissioners had never even heard of.

The new process, proposed by county staff, is supposed to make things fairer and more orderly.

Under the new policy, the period for applications for the money opens on Wednesday, Feb. 8 and closes on Friday, March 31.

In April, County staff will evaluate those requests and, in May, the county manager will recommend a list of organizations and the amounts that he suggests awarding them.

According to criteria provided by the county, “Applicants should be prepared 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 groups will also need to provide detailed financial data showing organizational programming and operational costs, and be prepared to provide the county with “a complete annual budget for their organization and provide a line-item breakdown of each use of County dollars for the coming fiscal year.”

Here’s the information each prospective organization must provide:

  • A complete and up-to-date Board of Directors roster
  • Proof of 501(c)3 status, the most recent W-9
  • Certificate of Insurance with Guilford County listed as the beneficiary.

In addition, organizations in line to get more than $100,000 in a single fiscal year will have to submit an audit performed by a certified public accountant at the end of the annual CBO funding cycle.

Over the last several months, Guilford County Budget Director Toy Beeninga and his staff have done much of the work revamping the policy.  The Guilford County Board of Commissioners discussed potential changes in various meetings and work sessions before they were implemented in January.

The new policy has multiple revisions from the previous policy; however, again, in the end, those groups that get funded are the ones who can get five votes from commissioners.

The new policy helps distinguish Community-Based Organizations from Economic Development Organizations (EDO’s), which will fall under different guidelines.

Under the new guidelines for community-based organizations, applications will not be considered if the response packet is incomplete or is submitted past the deadline.

Also, an organization’s funding from a previous year will not be a determining factor in the recommendation process.

“Each year is evaluated independently of any prior year funding decisions,” it reads.

In the past, some groups have gotten money simply due to inertia despite the fact that the original benefit to the county had gone away years before.

The Board of Commissioners spent a good deal of time deciding the $100,000 threshold for requiring an audit. One commissioner asked about requiring all groups getting money to conduct an audit and present it to the commissioners – however, other commissioners in the work session pointed out that audits can be very expensive and the county does not wish to impose that burden on a small organization that is receiving, say, $5,000 or $10,000 in county money.