Consolidated Community Funding Pool - The Need
The Need for a New Funding Relationship with Community-Based Human Service Providers
In 1997, Fairfax County, Virginia developed and implemented a new competitive grant process for funding human services offered by non-profit agencies. Before that time, non-profits received County funding through a variety of methods: some non-profits received annual contributions as line-items in the County budget with no specific program or reporting requirements; other organizations had formal contracts with one or more County Departments to provide specific services; still others competed for a variety of funds from local, state or federal sources, including the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds.
These funding mechanisms had evolved separately over time, each with its own unique eligibility criteria, applications, reporting requirements, and policies. Many non-profit organizations applied for funding from multiple sources and had to comply with competing or duplicative administrative requirements. The Board of Supervisors, staff, and citizens had no reliable way to track duplication or gaps in service, or to evaluate whether the County's overall support of non-profit service delivery was in line with the community's needs and priorities. Although aspects of this problem had been identified before, it took a crisis to catalyze systemic change. Facing a multimillion dollar shortfall for the 1997 fiscal year, Fairfax County was compelled to reevaluate all of its discretionary spending. In addition to deep cuts in County human services programs, non-profit agencies faced losing their contributions as well as many long-standing service contracts.
With a great deal of community support, the County's Board of Supervisors decided to maintain a reduced level of funding for non-profit service delivery in 1997 and to consolidate the contributory agency funds and several other funding streams into a Community Funding Pool to be awarded on a competitive basis beginning in the 1998 fiscal year. In the first year, the Funding Pool contained $4,271,553 from the County's General Fund. Of that amount, $589,079 was available from state and federal Community Services Block Grant funds and the remainder from the County's General Fund. To guide the process, the Board appointed a citizen group and directed County Human Services staff to support the work.
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