General Operating Support II

Scroll down to see GOS II FAQs.

General Operating Support II (GOS II) Grants, formerly known as General Operating Support Grants for Large Arts and Humanities Organizations, are available to nonprofit arts and humanities organizations that had both cash operating expenses and cash operating income of more than $150,000 during its most recently completed fiscal year. Grants are also available for an arts and/or humanities division within an umbrella nonprofit organization, provided that the division’s cash operating expenses and cash operating income were more than $150,000 during the most recently completed fiscal year. These two-year grants will be awarded for activities occurring from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2022.

By awarding GOS II Grants, the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) seeks to:

  • Encourage organizations to maintain an active, two-way, ongoing relationship between the organization and the community in the planning, participation, and evaluation of public activity/activities, which include intentional strategies for diversity, equity, access, and inclusion;
  • Promote stability in arts and humanities organizations by providing a base of funding to support operating budgets;
  • Help ensure diverse arts and humanities experiences for constituents of Montgomery County;
  • Stimulate local support and involvement in the arts and humanities, including volunteer participation, audience development, and financial contributions;
  • Strengthen the scholarly and artistic capabilities of arts and humanities organizations;
  • Improve and/or stabilize the management infrastructure and effectiveness of arts and humanities organizations.
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Letter of Intent Deadline
Friday, February 14, 2020 - 11:59 pm
Application Deadline
Friday, March 13, 2020 - 11:59 pm

AHCMC Grants Team

Karen Judson
Grants Program Manager
(301) 565-3804
Takenya LaViscount
Senior Grants Program Manager
(240) 839-4519
Dates + Deadlines

FY21 Submission Deadlines

  • Guidelines Released – Monday, December 23, 2019 – 11:59 p.m.
  • Letter of Intent – Friday, February 14, 2020 – 11:59 p.m. This submission deadline has passed
  • Application – Friday, March 13, 2020 – 11:59 p.m.

First-time applicants are highly encouraged to contact Grants Program staff. Letters of intent, applications, and all relevant materials must be submitted online. Late letters of intent, applications, and relevant materials will not be accepted.

Applications will be accepted for activities occurring from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2022.

Additional Dates Post-Application

  • Panel Review – April/May 2020
  • Award Announcement – late June 2020
  • FY21 Mid-Year Report Due – January 2021
  • FY21 Final Report Due – July 2021
  • FY22 Mid-Year Report – January 2022
  • FY22 Final Report – July 2022
Workshops & Webinars

Workshops at AHCMC

  • Wednesday, February 5, 2020 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
  • This event has passed


  • Monday, February 10, 2020 from 3:00 -4:00 p.m.
  • This event has passed

All AHCMC webinars will be hosted through the Zoom platform. Go to our Workshops and Webinars page to see all upcoming workshops and webinars.


Workshops and webinars allow grant-seekers to ask AHCMC grants staff specific questions about the grant guidelines, application, and FluidReview online grant portal. At each workshop and webinar, grants staff will review major eligibility requirements, present an overview of the grant category, and offer technical assistance for the application process and use of the FluidReview online grants portal.


Frequently Asked Questions for General Operating Support II

How does an organization figure out whether it makes more sense to apply for GOS II funding or a GOS I grant to get the largest potential grant?

GOS II is a highly competitive and rigorous category. Rather than simply focusing on the grant award, applicants are encouraged to consider organizational capacity, financial stability, and right-sizing. When determining which funding opportunity is the most appropriate fit, applicants should also consider which category will allow the organization to grow their organizations in a healthy, protracted manner, strengthen sustainability and create strong partnerships in the community. Applicants are always encouraged to contact AHCMC staff for guidance before the application deadline if it is unclear which grant category represents the best fit.

Why don’t the new grant categories address the complexity of comparing organizations with budgets of $150,000 to those with multimillion-dollar budgets?

Updates to AHCMC guidelines are iterative and developmental. The FY21 changes are intended to more equitably distribute the county’s finite resources with the least amount of harm to the fewest number of organizations.

What is a multiyear grants model?

GOS II grants are a multiyear funding opportunity, offered every two years. During each 2019 “Listening Session”, constituents expressed the need for two-year awards to reduce administrative burden, allow for long-term budget planning, and afford greater financial stability.

Applicants will be required to complete a full application for panel review in FY21. Grantees will submit a mid-year report and final report. In FY22, the administrative process will repeat except grantees will not submit a full application. Instead, grantees will simply provide updated financials, including their FY20 audit and 990. Grantees will also be required to submit a FY22 mid-year and final report, providing updates on organizational changes, progress made toward achieving organizational goals, other successes, and/or organizational challenges.

How can you guarantee multiyear funding without knowing the county’s final appropriation? How are annual fluctuations calculated into the second year of a grant cycle?

Each year, all grant funding is subject to fiscal appropriation, including possible reduction or termination, by the Montgomery County Government. For FY21 and FY22, GOS II base awards will consist of a percentage of the organization’s average total allowable cash expenses and/or allowable cash income during the past three completed fiscal years.

Each grants cycle, in FY21 and in FY22, AHCMC will calculate the allowable financial figure for each of the past three fiscal years based on the organization’s audits. The base awards will incorporate allowable cash/income calculations as well as the current county allocation. While the base award percentage may shift due to county allocation budgetary shifts, AHCMC’s budget advocacy is aimed at ensuring that base awards do not fall below 5% to avoid causing financial instability for grantees.

A grantee’s score will remain the same for both FY21 and FY22, until the grantee submits a full application for FY23 panel review. A more in-depth explanation can be found on page 9 of the guidelines.

How will this two-year cycle affect annual bonus awards?

The competitive excellence awards will be provided if funds remain after the minimum 5% base awards have been calculated for all GOS II grantees. As detailed on page 10 of the guidelines, the competitiveness excellence awards factor in the organization’s panel score, the average panel score of all organizations that are recommended for a grant, and the mean. Grantees receive an excellence award if their score is above the mean. Grantees who receive an excellence award in FY21 will also receive an excellence award in FY22. The higher the grantee’s score and the further away from the mean, the higher the grantee’s excellence award. The score earned in FY21 will be carried forward in FY22.

If the appropriation increases, will the 5% base percentage increase?

Since 2012, the guidelines for organizations that meet the eligibility requirements have remained constant in that all GOS II awardees will receive a minimum 5% base award. Should funding allocations from the county increase in accordance with increased demand and growth in the budget size of organizations in this category, the base awards will continue to fluctuate, based on overall budgets, demand, and the county’s appropriation.

For GOS II, should an organization’s score be much lower than expected, will there be an opportunity to resubmit a full proposal the next year to alter the grantee’s score?

No. Scores awarded in FY21 will be used for funding allocations in both FY21 and FY22. If an organization scores below a 60 and is not funded in GOS II in FY21, that organization may apply for a GOS I Grant, a Programming & Capacity Building Project Grant or Advancement Grant in FY22.

The ability to appeal panel scores seems more limited under the new general operating support guidelines.

The appeals process remains unchanged from prior years. The guidelines provided to the field in FY20 contained the same appeals process.

Why has AHCMC instituted a maximum grant award amount for GOS II?

AHCMC has instituted a funding cap for GOS II to more equitably distribute the county’s finite resources to the majority of our funding portfolio. In the process of revising the grant guidelines, AHCMC staff researched the grantmaking practices and reviewed guidelines created by a significant number of arts/humanities funders across the country, paying special attention to counties comparable to Montgomery County in size.

Some arts/humanities funders set firm caps for their general operating grants, for example, Fairfax County’s cap is $50,000. Other funders use a regressive funding formula. For example, San Antonio uses a regressive formula; organizations with operating expenses over $10 million receive up to 3% of their operating budget.

Communities are unique. What helps to grow the arts sector in one community in one part of the country will differ from what helps the sector to thrive in another. AHCMC is fortunate to serve a multicultural community with a vibrant arts scene and strives to nurture a broad and varied portfolio of artists, scholars, and arts/humanities organizations.

How was the amount of $600,000 determined?

We reviewed the most recent grant awards, the eligible budget for grantees, and determined that capping grant awards at $600,000 will ensure the equitable distribution of the county’s finite resources to the greatest number of eligible applicants with the least amount of harm to the fewest number of organizations.

Does the $600,000 cap apply to the total award for both years combined?

No. The cap is per year and applies to GOS II only. Applicants may also be eligible to seek additional funding in other categories.

For GOS II, why is an organization’s score not part of the base funding calculation as it is with the MSAC?

Considering that AHCMC’s goals differ from that of MSAC, our approach to funding calculations also differs.

Guidelines & Eligibility


Click here to view the full FY21 GOS II Guidelines

The grant awards for recommended GOS II applicants are based on a percentage of the organization’s average total allowable cash expenses and/or allowable cash income during the past three consecutive completed fiscal years, the panel’s ratings, total number of eligible applicants, and the public dollars available.

*Please note that in FY21, as part of the application, organizations will be required to submit a budget worksheet provided by AHCMC indicating allowable and non-allowable income and expenses. The worksheet should be completed based on the organization’s FY19 audit and should be emailed to AHCMC with the organization’s FY19 audit and FY19 990, no later than June 1, 2020. This form will be available in FluidReview and below under the “Application” tab.

*Please note that eligible organizations must have met all of the eligibility requirements for at least the past three completed fiscal years.*

Required Application Materials:

  1. Completed Narrative
  2. Organizational Support Materials
    • IRS Letter
    • List of Board of Directors
    • List of key staff
    • Strategic plan (if available)
  3. Financial Support Materials
    • FY19 990 (must be received by AHCMC no later than June 1, 2020)
    • FY19 audit (must be received by AHCMC no later than June 1, 2020)
    • Financial statements (Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet) for the most recently completed fiscal year
    • Current fiscal year operating budget with actuals year-to-date
    • Budget worksheet provided by AHCMC
    • Projected FY21 budget (if available)
  4. Programming Support Materials
  5. Work Sample(s)
  6. For Affiliate/Associate organizations only
    • A list of FY19 eligible expenses and income that directly support eligible programs

The FY21 Letter of Intent deadline has passed.

If your organization’s Letter of Intent was moved forward, login to the FluidReview application portal HERE to access the full application.

Guides for FluidReview:

Previous Grants Awarded

Review all of our grants awarded from any grants category HERE.