We’re updating our General Operating Support program

Changes to General Operating Support

This post has been updated to reflect the final changes to the GOS program adopted by the RACC Board of Directors on February 6. All current GOS partner organizations have received an email communication from RACC updating them on these changes and indicating Base Award and Investment Award information for FY19-20. If you have questions about how these changes will impact your organization, or if you did not receive an email notification, please contact your Grants Officer. RACC’s Press Release regarding these changes in available here.

Starting in Fiscal Year 19-20, RACC will be adopting a new structure for its General Operating Support (GOS) 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.

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 Investment Awards.
  • The Base Award is a stable, predictable allocation for which organizations can budget and plan. Base Awards are 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. In Fy19-20, RACC expects to award approximately $2 million in Base Awards.
  • Investment Awards will be granted through a competitive process in three categories –Community Impact, Operations, and Artistic Work. Each organization will have the opportunity to receive Investment Award funds in addition to their Base Award, depending on how they score in the review process. You can learn more about how the Investment categories will be evaluated here. In FY19-20, RACC expects to award approximately $1 million in Investment Awards.

What’s staying the same?

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

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 offering 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. Reports will continue to be accepted in three cycles with deadlines in November, February, and May.


When will my organization receive our Base Award? What about our Investment Award?
GOS Partner Reports will continue to be accepted at three deadlines each year in November, February, and May. Base Awards will be distributed as soon as the review of your report is complete – typically 8-12 weeks after the report is due. Investment Awards will be distributed one-time annually at the end of RACC’s fiscal year in June.

Why was my organization placed in this tier?
RACC has placed organizations in tiers based on your average eligible income over your last three fiscal years. Eligible income is your total unrestricted revenue less: revenue for programs outside RACC’s service region, revenue from programs provided in spaces that are not ADA accessible, non-arts earned income, and in-kind revenue. A table of base award amounts by tier is available here.

How much revenue from RACC should I include in my budget?
We strongly recommend that Partner Organizations budget to receive their Base Award each year. The Base Award is specifically designed to be consistent and reliable, and is a good conservative figure to use when creating your organization’s budget. Investment Awards may vary significantly between years and we don’t recommend that organizations budget around them.

How will Investment Awards be determined?
Investment Awards will be determined based on an organization’s score in our three investment areas. You can read more about how we evaluate these areas in the Investment Award Framework. We currently expect Investment Awards to range in size from $5,000 to $40,000. These award amounts will be set entirely based on score and are not related to the budget size of the organization. We will provide more detail and reporting guidelines to partner organizations when updated Partner Report forms are released in summer 2019. If you have questions about Investment Awards, please contact your RACC grants officer for more information.

How will RACC evaluate equity work in GOS partners?
Rather than having a separate Investment Award or category for equity work, RACC will be evaluating equity work in all three Investment Award categories – Community Impact, Operations, and Artistic Work. 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.

What happened to Work for Art funding?
Work for Art has evolved to become RACC’s Arts Impact Fund. Funds raised through their campaigns will be awarded as part of each organizations annual Investment Award.

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 Investment Awards.


Who to contact with more questions:

Ingrid Carlson, Grants Officer | icarlson@racc.org | 503.823.5417