We’re updating our General Operating Support program

Updates to General Operating Support

Starting in Fiscal Year 19-20, RACC will be adopting a new structure for its General Operating Support program. This structure revises the allocation strategy for distribution of GOS funds, and makes us more nimble, inclusive, and strategic. These changes will mean our workplace giving and grants teams work closer together to increase the impact of RACC’s support for GOS organizations. Please see the details below on what is changing, why it is changing, and get your questions answered.

RACC’s Work for Art program is implementing changes alongside with these grant program changes that will affect GOS organizations. Click here to see those changes.

What’s changing?

  • Beginning in FY19-20 RACC will be adopting a new structure for the General Operating Support grant program. Grant awards will be split into two parts – the Base award and merit or incentive awards.
  • The Base award will be a stable, predictable allocation for which organizations can budget and plan. Base awards will be set in tiers based on the size of an organization’s budget. As long as organizations continue to meet eligibility requirements and submit annual reports, they can count on receiving a base award.
  • Merit awards will be granted through a competitive process in three categories – operational health, community benefit, and artistic programming. Each organization will have the opportunity to receive merit funds in addition to their base award, depending on how they score in the review process.

What’s staying?

  • Eligibility requirements for GOS will not be changing. The membership structure of the program will also continue, but be reframed as partnership rather than membership.

We’re making changes to our Work for Art program that will affect GOS organizations. Please click here to read the changes.

Why is it changing?

These structure changes make us more flexible, inclusive, representative, and strategic in our funding. Over the last six years, the revenue generated from the Arts Education and Access Fund (commonly known as the Arts Tax) has varied widely. While collections have improved significantly over the years, it remains challenging to predict the amount of funding RACC will receive and when it will arrive. In summer 2017, RACC’s Grants Review Committee began a process to revise the GOS program to be flexible and allow us to more quickly and easily invest this fluctuating revenue in the community.

In addition to addressing the instability of arts tax revenue, the new structure will allow RACC to both provide stability through base awards, while also offer additional support for organizations based on their operational health, artistic programming, and community benefit.

Finally, as part of our equity work, RACC is committed to acknowledging the historic disparity of our funding model and the changing demographics of our region. The proposed changes to the GOS program will allow RACC to more clearly and effectively encourage equity work in all our partner organizations, and also pave the way for additional organizations led by historically underserved communities to become GOS partners.

When is it changing?

These changes will take effect starting in FY2019-20, which begins July 1, 2019. Current GOS partners will continue to report annually at one of the three reporting deadlines, and as previously communicated, they will receive the same allocation in FY2018-19 as in the past two years. Base award amounts for FY2019-20 and more detailed review criteria for merit awards will be shared with General Operating Support partners by the end of 2018.

In addition to changes to the grants framework, we’re making changes to our Work for Art program that will impact GOS organizations. Please click here to read why these changes are happening.



How much money will my organization receive once these changes take effect?
At this point we do not know the exact award amounts. Through the combination of base and merit awards, most organizations will have the opportunity to receive more funds than they do today, depending on how they score on the merit review criteria. Some organizations will not receive as much funding as they do under the current model.

How will funds be divided between the base awards and merit awards?
RACC has finalized the overall structure for the program, but has not yet officially set the amounts of money that will be allocated to the base awards and merit awards. RACC plans to make a decision about this ratio and to share this information with partner organizations by the end of this year.

How will base awards be determined?
GOS partner organizations will be grouped into tiers by budget size. All of the organizations within each tier will receive the same base award amount. As organizations grow or shrink over time, they may move into different tiers. We currently anticipate there will be seven tiers, but this decision will be finalized this fall and communicated to partner organizations by the end of the year.

How will organizations be evaluated for merit awards?
RACC staff and our Grants Review Committee will be working this fall to develop review criteria to help us evaluate organizations on operational health, community benefit, and artistic work. We are excited to hear input from our partner organizations about how to best evaluate in these areas. There will be focus groups to provide feedback in a variety of areas. Organizations are also welcome to contact their Grants Officer if they would like to share feedback via email or over the phone.

How will RACC evaluate equity work in GOS partners?
Rather than having a separate merit award or category for equity work, RACC will be evaluating equity work in all three merit award categories — operational health, community benefit, and artistic programming. For example, the diversity of an organization’s staff and board is one indicator of operational health. The GOS report will continue to include demographic questions.

How will these changes impact organizations based in Washington or Clackamas Counties?
Organizations based in Washington and Clackamas counties do not receive funding from Portland’s Arts Education & Access Fund and will not be impacted by most of these changes. These organizations will see changes to the GOS report forms, but will continue to receive county funding as a base award. They will not be eligible to receive merit awards.

We’re making changes to our Work for Art program that will affect GOS organizations. Click here to get your frequently asked questions answered.

Who to contact with more questions

Helen Daltoso, Director of Grants | hdaltoso@racc.org | 503.832.5402