MSO Proj. for Nonprofit Excellence


What if all local nonprofits could have the organizational strength to reach their full potential?

Just think of what could be accomplished in our community.

In 2008, Big Sky Institute for the Advancement of Nonprofits partnered with several Montana foundations to establish a pioneering grantmaking program intended to help nonprofits improve their internal structures and operations so they can be more effective in achieving their missions.

After the statewide demonstration phase, project architects decided on a local focus for the program. We are excited that Missoula is the pilot site for this innovative program. 2014 marked our inaugural grant cycle, and we selected the Poverello Center and the International Wildlife Film Festival/Roxy Theater as the initial grantees. The core funders group selected the National Coalition Building Institute-Missoula, the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project, and Forward Montana Foundation as the 2015 recipients of the Missoula Project for Nonprofit Excellence (MPNE). In 2016, HomeReSource, Blue Mountain Clinic, and Missoula Community Access Television (MCAT) joined the ranks of MPNE recipients. 2017 recipients are Watershed Education Network, Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, and Women’s Opportunity and Resource Development.

Missoula Project for Nonprofit Excellence (MPNE) is modeled after BSI’s Montana Nonprofit Connections Program. During its statewide Demonstration Phase, BSI partnered with a half dozen Montana foundations to provide $10,000 per grantee in support for up to 6 nonprofits annually to assist with:

1. Comprehensive Organizational Assessments to determine each nonprofit’s strengths, weaknesses, and priorities for improvement; and

2. Capacity Building Projects to strengthen nonprofits in such areas as Board of Directors operations, financial management, strategic planning, marketing/communications, human resources, and funding diversification/expansion.

A MPNE grant is a two-part process, wherein the grantee organization first works with a local organizational consultant to conduct an in-depth assessment to identify organizational needs. As a result of the findings uncovered in the assessment, the organization selects a capacity building project to pursue in the second part of the grant process.

Funding Partners

This program would not be possible without the generous support of several funders:

Core Funders

Caroline Kurtz, Annie Schaub Watson, Martha Newell, Julie Osborn and the Missoula Community Foundation are fully participating in the program, including funding, program design & implementation and grantee selection.

Supporting Funders

The Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation, High Stakes Foundation, Stranahan Foundation and the  United Way of Missoula County are providing financial support for the program. 

Who Can Apply?
MPNE Eligibility Criteria

  • Nonprofits that maintain their primary office within Missoula County and provide a majority of services to people within Missoula County.
  • Have been in existence for at least three years with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status (i.e. 3 years past the date on the IRS advance ruling letter).
  • Have a demonstrated track record of providing services needed by the community.
  • Demonstrate readiness to undertake capacity building.
  • Adopted or are willing to adopt LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies in employment, volunteer and board recruitment and in providing services. Sample policies available upon request.
  • Participated in the last 12 months in other capacity building activities, including one or more of the following:
    • Membership in a state or professional association that addresses issues of governance, leadership and management. Examples include the Montana Nonprofit Association, Missoula Nonprofit Network, Western Montana Fundraisers Association, Missoula Executive Directors Roundtable or a professional association related to the work of your organization.
    • Participated in a conference, workshop or other learning opportunity that addressed issues of nonprofit organizational development
    • Worked with a consultant to address an issue related to your organizational development needs. Note: We will consider applications from organizations that have not participated in on of the above activities if there is a clear and compelling need that leads the organization to consider capacity building at this time.
    • Preference will be given to organizations with annual expenditures of less than $1million.

2017-18 Grant Cycle Application Process

Step 1- Pre-ApplicationOne staff and one board member will independently complete the Capacity Building Assessment Self-Survey (CASS). The CASS must be completed by midnight on Friday, December 22nd, 2017, . Early submissions are encouraged.  Click here to complete the CASS>>

After completing the CASS, the Grants Coordinator will be in touch to schedule an interview with a staff and board member in order to assess the nonprofit’s readiness to participate in the MPNE program. Interviews will be conducted during the week of January 8th, 2018 and will last one hour.

Step 2-Application: Nonprofits deemed ready to undertake the program will be directed to an online application. Applications must be submitted by midnight on Friday, January 26th, 2018.

Step 3-Selection: Three nonprofits will be selected. Applicants will be notified during the week of February 12th, 2018.

Coming Soon- 2017-2018 Timeline with important MPNE dates.

For More Information

Contact Meredith Printz at (406) 926-2846 or for more information.

This document provides a detailed outline of the program: MPNE 2016 Program Overview