Donna Murray-Brown: Federal Grant Policies Overhaul

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful holiday season! It seems our year is off to a great start , due in part to a wonderful development occurring late last year during the holiday season.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed an overhaul of federal grant policies and procedures titled “Uniform Administrative Requirement, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.”

Please read below regarding the highlights and specifics of the new OMB guidance:

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its long-anticipated overhaul of federal grants policies and procedures, and charitable nonprofits achieved several important goals that will strengthen organizations performing work in communities on behalf of governments and the nonprofit community as a whole.

Titled “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards,” the final guidance will require state and local governments using federal funds to reimburse nonprofit contractors and grantees for reasonable indirect costs, sometimes called administrative or overhead expenses. The guidance will allow nonprofits to focus more on delivering services in their communities, and spend less money on wasteful paperwork by raising the Single Audit threshold to $750,000, eliminating duplicative and unnecessary audit criteria, and clarifying cost allocation rules.

In a statement, the National Council of Nonprofits summarized the significance of the new OMB guidance this way:

“The new guidance means that nonprofits should be able to focus more on their missions and should be under less pressure to raise additional funds to essentially subsidize governments. In turn, charities with no government contracts or grants could see less competition for scarce philanthropic dollars. This is a major win for the entire charitable nonprofit community.”

Highlights from the Grants Guidance

  • Indirect Costs: The OMB Guidance explicitly requires pass-through entities (typically states and local governments receiving federal funding) to either honor a nonprofit’s negotiated indirect cost rate if one already exists or negotiate a rate in accordance with federal guidelines. Nonprofits will be empowered to elect an automatic indirect cost rate of 10 percent of modified total direct costs (MTDC) – which can be used indefinitely if they so choose – or negotiate a higher rate.
  • Direct Costs: The guidance makes clear that, in certain circumstances, program administration (e.g., secretarial staff dedicated to a specific program) can be reported as direct, rather than as indirect, costs.
  • Audit Rules: The new guidance also raises the threshold for a single audit (A-133) requirement from $500,000 to $750,000, thus reducing costs for smaller contracts and grants.
  • Streamlining Federal Guidance: The new guidance consolidates and streamlines eight OMB circulars, including OMB Circulars 110 and 122 that relate to charitable nonprofits. As a result, applications and reporting will be standardized and streamlined to provide more consistency across various federal agencies.
  • Effective Date: Unclear, but presumably a year after publication in the Federal Register on December 26, 2013.

Donna Murray-BrownSubmitted by Donna Murray-Brown, President & CEO, Michigan Nonprofit Association

Introducing: Mike Rafferty, Director, Metro Detroit Partnership

Michael Rafferty - Director, Metro Detroit Partnership

Michael Rafferty

MNA is happy to welcome Mike Rafferty as the new Director, Metro Detroit Partnership. Mike started his new role with MNA in October.

Mike, a Detroit native and accomplished development professional, comes to MNA from the Wayne County Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE), where he was responsible for the development of a retention program and the attraction of more than $50M of private sector investment. He also serves on the Boards of Directors of Warren Conner Development Coalition, The 8 Mile Boulevard Association, The Villages CDC, and is the Chair of the Board of LAND Inc. His prior Detroit experience also includes work for the Detroit office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), in 2006.

In 2007, following his time at LISC, Mike was employed with the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, the Bed-Stuy Gateway Business Improvement District, and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) in New York. In these roles, Mike was responsible for several neighborhood, community, and economic development initiatives, including the successful completion of a $10M public plaza and streetscape redevelopment, and the administration of a $500,000 community development financing institution.

Mike holds a BA in Organizational Communications from St. Mary’s College and a Masters of Urban Planning from Wayne State University.

#GivingTuesday is December 3, 2013!


We all know about the rush for rock-bottom prices on “Black Friday,” the growing movement to support “Small Business Saturday,” and the online shopping frenzy on “Cyber Monday.” But did you know that the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is known as Giving Tuesday? It’s a great chance for people to come together to make a charitable impact during a season of need for many.

#GivingTuesday is in its second year, but has already gained the support of individuals and organizations in all 50 states, The White House, tons of celebrities, and the mayors of many major US cities. In 2012, the effort helped create a 50% increase in online giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Imagine what it can do this year!

There are so many ways to participate. Whether you’re volunteering with a local charity, making a donation to your favorite nonprofit organization, spreading the word on social media, or taking and sharing your own #UNselfie, everyone can be a part of Giving Tuesday.


What’s an #UNselfie? Glad you asked!

Some organizations have challenge or matching campaigns set up for Giving Tuesday. Even if they don’t, your employer may have an employee match program, which could double the impact of your donation!

Want to learn more about Giving Tuesday and how to empower your supporters to participate? Visit to sign up as a partner, share your story, or to get ideas, resources, toolkits, and more. Be sure to let us know how you’re participating by commenting here, or sharing or tweeting your #UNselfies at MNA on Facebook or Twitter.

Looking for an organization to get involved with? MNA’s member directory is a great place to start!

Terry StreetmanSubmitted by Terry Streetman, Membership & Advocacy Coordinator, Michigan Nonprofit Association

National Service Member Reflections on MNA SuperConference 2013

Thanks to the generous support of the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, MNA was proud to be able to sponsor 15 national service members to attend the 2013 SuperConference. These members, representing both AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps*VISTA programs in West Michigan, brought their passion for fighting poverty and transforming communities to SuperConference, and enriched the experience of all they encountered. In addition, we owe them a big thanks for positioning themselves around the space as human arrows, helping our attendees find their way! As part of the SuperConference national service member fellowships, the members were asked to provide blog content detailing their SuperConference experiences and reflections. Below are some of their thoughts.

KFB5The conference seemed to pass in a whirlwind, but there was one moment where I was able to pause all the action and reflect. I passed by the Kids’ Food Basket table to find people coloring bags with crayons, and I received an explanation about how the organization used the bags to add some food and joy into the day of a hungry child. To decorate my bag, I thought back to my own childhood and thought of a phrase my dad would say to me every school day as I left the house. “Have a great day in great America!” I didn’t think much of it when I was younger but as I got older this phrase became more of a reflection, as I was able to appreciate the opportunity to seize another day in a place that provides for me the chance to do so. I designed the phrase on the bag along with red and blue stripes with hopes of passing on that thought to someone new. This activity provided the opportunity to do something meaningful amongst a whirlwind of other happenings at the MNA SuperConference. I can be thankful for the event and another couple great days in great America.
– Sam Morykwas, Mentoring to Access Corps

As a young professional, I feel some pressure to be a “great” leader and be logical in achieving this. I was pleasantly surprised when multiple sessions at the MNA SuperConference took the weight off my shoulders to be a “perfect leader” and changed how I think of creativity in the workplace. From Rosetta Thurman, I learned how I can use passion, rather than credentials, to change the world. From Paul Schmitz, I learned I can be a great leader without being an expert in all fields. From Frans Johannson I discovered that I can broaden the brainstorming process and include illogical and unpredictable paths. Glen Fayolle taught me that I can brainstorm all ideas that may work, fail a few times (perhaps fail even MORE times), and potentially come across something great. Overall, I found SuperConference to be a great experience! I gained new ways of thinking about leadership and creativity, and left the event a well-rounded leader with a few more tools in my arsenal to spark change in the world.
– Chelsea Leser, MNA Civic Engagement AmeriCorps*VISTA Program

The MNA Super Conference was one of the best professional development experiences that I had during my year of service, and I am beyond excited that I had the opportunity to attend it. The most enlightening portion of the conference was listening to Paul Schmitz of Public Allies. Paul provided a discussion that was both informative and enjoyable regarding cohesion in the nonprofit sector, and how we need to have a full understanding of the mission and the people you work alongside. Paul asked us to split into groups, based on where we felt that we fit in the nonprofit world, and then asked us to make lists of the benefits that we provide, as well as the benefits that the other groups provide. This exercise was helpful in understand that we are all pieces of the puzzle, and when one piece or personality is missing, our vision is harder to complete. As I left Paul’s talk, I felt that I could be an important piece of the nonprofit puzzle while still realizing that the other pieces were crucial as well. I was reminded as he spoke that everyone has a gift or talent to contribute, and sometimes you have to keep your eyes open to see it.
– Kailee Laplander, Mentor Michigan College Coaching Corps – Finlandia University

Thank you to all of the national service members who attended, and thank you to all of our nonprofit partners who host AmeriCorps or AmeriCorps*VISTA members!

Jenny McArdleSubmitted by Jenny McArdle, AmeriCorps*VISTA Program Manager

SuperConference Reflections – Developing and Engaging Diverse Leadership

As part of our SuperConference Social Media Fellowships, students from the Grand Valley State University School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration were asked to provide blog content detailing their SuperConference experiences and reflections. Below are some of their thoughts.

Several of our Fellows attended the pre-conference session, Developing and Engaging Diverse Leadership, presented by Paul Schmitz, CEO of Public Allies. Jason Escareno lays out Paul’s main point:

Is the glass half-full or half empty? According to Paul Schmitz, CEO of Pubic Allies, the answer is ‘both.’ Speaking to a full room at a morning session of the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s 2013 Superconference, Schmitz related leadership competencies to the proverbial half-full, half-empty glass of water. “We need to have confidence in our fullness, and humility about our emptiness. The things you’re terrible at are no great secret—you’re not fooling anybody.”

Samantha Adler outlined Schmitz’s five key values for leaders.

Schmitz hits on five key values for leaders to create a diverse and dynamic culture.  Schmitz’s first value, assets, has the audience think about what or who are the assets in their own community.  The second value, diversity and inclusion, are what Schmitz states as actions, not ideals.  The third value is collaboration.  Schmitz says, “Leadership is about what you do with others.” Continuous Learning is the fourth, and Schmitz summons the audience to consider their own challenges and mistakes and to consider where their own growth is needed.  This idea he affectionately explains as, “knowing what you suck at.” With value number four comes integrity, the fifth and final value.  Great leaders are true to themselves – their stories, purpose and values.

Hillary Kirchhoff also attended Paul’s session. “I found this session very informational,” she said. “[Paul] began the session by stating that everyone leads. It is an action many can take, not a position few can hold.” The session taught that “everyone has the ability to be a leader.”

Check back later for more reflection on other sessions and the conference as a whole.

MNA SuperConference 2013 Reflections


As part of MNA SuperConference 2013, we had the chance to provide a special opportunity to students from the Grand Valley State University School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration. These students served as Social Media Fellows, covering the conference on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as it happened (via the #SuperConference hashtag), and providing blog posts of their reflections for us.

In all, there were more than 700 Tweets posted with the hashtag #SuperConference, and plenty of great information shared.

This week, we will be sharing the longer-form blog reflections. As we do, feel free to share your thoughts and reflections in the comments. Which sessions did you enjoy? Which speakers were most engaging? Which local restaurant did you visit during the “Dinner with Friends” on the first day of the conference? How quickly did you devour your bag of caramel popcorn after our closing plenary session with River City Improv? (For me, it was too quick to admit in print.)

Thank you to our Social Media Fellows for doing such a great job, and to everyone else who attended, presented, volunteered, and helped to make SuperConference 2013 such a success!

Keep an eye on this blog for the coming posts!

TerrySubmitted by Terry Streetman, Membership & Advocacy Coordinator, Michigan Nonprofit Association


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