Foundation News

October 20, 2022

Expanding Miller Operating Support Grants

News for our Operating Support Initiative Grantees:

As we have entered the last year of the Operating Support Initiative (OSI), you are no doubt wondering, “What’s next?”, especially as you start to frame your 2023-24 budgets. First, we want to assure you that we are not stepping away from our commitment to unrestricted general operating support. In fact, Miller Foundation is looking to expand operating support in its responsive grantmaking, in large part due to our learning from this initiative. The Operating Support Initiative will sunset at the end of the 2022-23 fiscal year and fold into a broader general operating support responsive grant program.


Here is what the expansion will look like:

If your budget is under $500,000, you can apply for two years of operating support through our Fast Track program. The grant will be a percentage of a multi-year average of your budget, very similar to how it has been calculated through OSI. The Fast Track grant application is available on a rolling basis and our response time from application to check is generally less than 2 months.


If your budget is over $500,000, you can apply for up to three years of operating support through our LOI process if you have a 5+funding year history with Miller (which all OSI cohort organizations have) OR you can apply for a larger amount of program support for a specific project.  The operating support grant amount will be calculated in a similar way to the current OSI determination: 3-5% of your operating budget averaged over 4 years, with a maximum cap of $125,000 annually.   


The eligibility requirements will include:

·       5 years of continuous operation with demonstrable, ongoing public programs: at least 1-2 exhibits, productions, events, classes or sequential programming

·       Budgets balanced over a 3-yearrolling average

·       Diversified funding with both contributed and earned income

·       Strong leadership on board and staff

·       Adaptive capacity as evidenced by pivoting during COVID

·       Serving audiences representative of the communities in which they operate

What will change for the current OSI cohort:

  • Most will go from a 4-year grant to a 2- or 3-year grant and you will have to submit an application. However, we hope you will find our new application process to be streamlined and simple. 
  • You will have an opportunity to recalibrate your grant amount more frequently, which will typically be beneficial. We’ve received feedback from many of you that your annual budgets during the 4-year OSI grant periods increased, but your award was locked in for 4 years.
  • The new model gives you choice about what to request from us – operating support or project support. We’ve received feedback that you struggle to find other funders for special projects or initiatives. The new model means you can determine if you want to come to us for operating support, or you can come to us for a larger amount for a project grant.


Please note, you will need to choose which kind of support you want, as you won’t be able to apply for both operating support and project support within the same grant. For example, over a 3-year planning horizon, you could apply for 2 years of operating support, knowing that in the 3rd year you intend to increase staff capacity and will ask for a larger amount of project support for 2 years.  Project support grant requests may be vetted by a subset of board and staff before they get to the full board to make sure they align with our funding priorities and to ensure a higher probability of funding. If it is determined that your project support request is not likely to receive support, staff will consult with you about whether it would be advisable to request operating support instead.



There is no action for you to take at this time. We are working out the details and application process, and the new program will be for funding the 2023-24 season. Depending on when your final year OSI reporting is due, most will be eligible to apply in early summer or fall of 2023. We’ll keep you posted as the new application process comes online and would also encourage you to check our website on occasion in the coming months.


On a final note, at the beginning of this initiative, many in the cohort said to us that they hoped this initiative could demonstrate the importance of multi-year, unrestricted general operating support. We can tell you with complete assurance that it has and that what we learned from the cohort has informed this extraordinary expansion of our responsive grant program. Your commitment, transparency and integrity throughout this initiative has paved the way for countless other non-profits statewide to receive unrestricted general operating support.


Thank you!

The Miller Foundation staff

Martha, Michelle, Jennifer, Alma and Lacey