Rolling out Measure J to Support Nonprofits

In November 2020, Measure J was approved by Los Angeles County voters sending a clear signal that people supported investing in community-based solutions focused on addressing racial injustice including youth development, job training, supportive housing, and services for small businesses.

Measure J, which allocates at least 10% of the County’s locally generated, unrestricted funds, allows the County to empower the recommendations of the Nonprofit/Philanthropy Economic Resiliency Working Group into action given its focus on equitable access to contracts for community-based organizations. Through this funding, we are hopeful that a more transparent, user-friendly contracting system and a reimbursement rate that covers actual costs allows services funded through those public dollars to reach those who need them. These important changes in contracting practices will help to address outdated and costly processes, and help achieve the goals the voters supported by removing the structural barriers the County constructed over the years, making it nearly impossible for the groups responsible for delivering programs and services to access public funding.

The Center for Nonprofit Management (CNM) works at the epicenter of the social impact sector in Southern California providing purpose-driven leaders with the skills, tools, and connections they need to drive change and impact in communities throughout LA County. CNM, and our partners on the Economic Resiliency Nonprofit/Philanthropy Working Group, have been addressing the concerns expressed by Los Angeles’ nonprofits as recommendations move forward on Measure J:

1. Equitable Access to Contracts/Opportunities

Developing a transparent, user-friendly online RFP system to help large and small community-based organizations find out about and apply for funding opportunities. It is important to make these processes more efficient, easier to track, and accessible for service providers. By developing an automated centralized system, organizations and county staff would be able to save time and eliminate paper files, better track upcoming contracting opportunities, submit proposals electronically, submit digital signatures and common documents regarding nonprofit status, board lists, 990 forms, and build a system for timely invoicing while providing the County with data for better analysis.

2. Training

Training, like those courses provided through CNM, should not focus on learning the details of a broken, inefficient system, rather, given the intent of millions in locally controlled dollars linked to Measure J, organizations and county staff should focus on meeting community needs, defining common outcome measurement goals, connecting peers and strengthening referral services, not on how to navigate complex and outdated systems. Working in underserved areas of the County, mechanisms, and practices that facilitate shared goals and networked services will benefit community members, improve the capacity of CBO’s and collect important data that will inform advocacy, impact, and implementation strategies within the community we serve.

3. Auditing

Centralizing and updating the auditing process will provide important administrative efficiencies and accountability, but setting up clear, consistent guidance from the beginning is essential to a more impactful contracting process. The current auditing processes are often redundant and inefficient within and across various County, departments diverting funds from services to reporting systems.

4. Simplify reporting that is more consistent and linked to contract size

Provide new opportunities such as the “small grant” approach that will open up smaller contracting opportunities that require less cumbersome reporting and documentation.

5. Reimbursement for True Costs

The cost of contracting with the county puts organizational sustainability at risk. Organizations are expected to cover the financial gap linked to indirect (overhead) costs and must rely on fundraising to be able to afford to deliver the County’s services. We need to clearly define what costs will be reimbursed and how each organization will be paid in a timely manner, including any upfront investment needed when beginning the contracted work.

Given the essential role nonprofit providers will play to support care first/jails last over the next several years, we are proud to support the work of the Advisory Committee, Judge Songhai Armstead, and nonprofit leaders like Eunisses Hernandez who are on the front lines building awareness for alternatives to incarceration.


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