Mass Cultural Council

10 St. James Ave., 3rd floor
Boston, MA 02116

Date Posted:
October 19, 2020

Eastern Massachusetts



RFP: Nonprofit Organization Content Experts


Mass Cultural Council seeks several nonprofit organization content experts to support the Agency in delivering services to assist nonprofit organizations responding to the unique challenges of operating and programming during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The Mass Cultural Council has been deeply engaged in candid conversations with grantees and other Massachusetts-based nonprofit organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. These conversations have surfaced numerous areas of assistance that organizations have identified as critical to their business models and mission effectiveness.

The content areas in this RFP are far-reaching and rely on the expertise of content experts in various nonprofit organization specialty areas. Therefore, it is not expected that a single content expert will deliver all the services listed in this RFP. Applicants to this RFP will have the opportunity to submit separate proposals for the content areas for which they would like consideration. RFP not to exceed $155,000 in the aggregate.

Project Goals:

Mass Cultural Council’s operating support program, the Cultural Investment Portfolio, is a partnership grant program. The Mass Cultural Council assists organizations through strategic planning, capacity building, advisory services and consultancies, in addition to direct grant making.

To that end, the Agency seeks to support Massachusetts nonprofit organizations in responding to the unique challenges of operating and programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. These services will occur throughout the Council’s FY21, until June 30, 2021. Successful respondents will be subject to Council approval at the next occurring Council Meeting (which has not scheduled yet) prior to being retained.

Based on hundreds of candid conversations between Mass Cultural Council and nonprofit leaders, specific focus areas have been developed as critical to the field’s sustainability and effectiveness. To support these focus areas, Mass Cultural Council will present a series of webinars throughout FY21. The target audience for this work is small to mid-size nonprofit cultural organizations (roughly defined as organizations ranging from small budget, all-volunteer organizations, to professionally staffed organizations with up to $3 million in annual expenses), however, all services will be available to any Massachusetts nonprofit cultural organization.

Content experts may submit proposals to provide services in one or more of the content areas below.

Content Areas:

Below are specific content areas identified by nonprofit cultural organizations as being critical to their business model and mission effectiveness.

It is to be noted that additional services in support of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access, virtual programming, public health, and trauma-informed care are being completed at the agency level, and thus, this list is not inclusive of all the topics critical to organizations.

1. Human Resources

Content areas (5): Work from home best practices; employee self-care in support of mental health during times of stress; support and executive coaching for Executive Directors and similar leaders in balancing multiple stressors; basics of employment law, legal requirements of hiring, layoffs, furloughs; unemployment obligations.

2. Board/Governance

Content areas (4): The role of an effective board during times of stress; how to motivate and support board members remotely; successful board recruitment/retainment process in times of stress; the basics of risk assessment important to board members.

3. Leadership/Management

Content areas (8): Effectively motivating teams, including staff and volunteers, remotely; best practices in collaborative technology tools; overview of nonprofit closure and mergers; state and federal arts advocacy basics; how to conduct strategic planning during COVID-19; essential ingredients and process of effective collaborations and partnerships; how to effectively transition a business model; best practices of leadership transitions during COVID-19.

4. Financial Management

Content areas (3): Treatment of liabilities particularly important during COVID-19, including deferred revenue, lines of credit and the PPP; financial scenario planning, benchmarking, and communication necessary to rebuild staff, benefits, and compensation that may have been cut or eliminated due to closure or programmatic interruptions; understanding program economics.

5. Digital Programming

Content areas (5): Navigating royalties, rights, subsequent use, and unions in a digital programming environment; strategies on how to monetize digital programming; best practices in audience engagement and retention; how to compete in a new digital programmatic landscape; digital program evaluation methods.

6. Marketing/Development

Content areas (5): How to market digital programming to wide audiences; best practices in digital fundraisers; how to steward donors when programming is suspended or not delivered in ‘traditional’ ways; how to make the fundraising case for arts and culture during COVID-19; conducting a successful capital campaign during times of stress.


Scope of Work and Deliverables:

These services will be delivered entirely via Zoom webinars and/or meetings. They are envisioned as up to a 1.5-hour webinar presented by the content expert, including a combination of participant Q/A and/or a panel discussion among cultural nonprofits that can provide practical experience with the topic.

The content expert will design the webinar content, create a marketing description, and provide resources (including slide deck, templates, tools, etc.) to be distributed to the field following the webinar. It is expected that there be at least one prep meeting before the webinar(s) with the content expert and Mass Cultural Council staff where presentation outline is discussed, content is refined, and logistics are reviewed. All content will be recorded and available on the Mass Cultural Council's YouTube channel for broad access.

The Mass Cultural Council will manage event registration, advertising, panel and Q/A moderation, identification of cultural nonprofit panelists, and conduct post-event surveys.

In addition to providing information about the competencies and services outlined above, successful candidates will also demonstrate:

  • Assessed ability to meet project deadlines, and to perform work in a timely and professional manner
  • Deep knowledge of financial benchmarks and best practices in nonprofit sector
  • Broad understanding of business/funding models within the nonprofit cultural sector
  • Cultural humility and a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.

Project Timeline:

The project timeline can be developed with the content expert, but project activities will take place between approximately December 1, 2020 (depending on date of Council approval) and June 30, 2021.

How To Apply:

Proposal Format and Submission Process:

Using the above list of content areas, the content expert should:

  • Submit a separate proposal for each content area for which they would like consideration.
  • In the proposal, briefly describe the content overview, session format (single webinar vs multi-session engagement, for example), and learning outcomes (for example: at the end of this session, participants will be able to...).
  • A cost estimate based on how much time the content expert feels the project would take to create and deliver.

Please also include:

  • Background about you, your organization, or consultant firm
  • Information about key personnel
  • Examples of previous similar projects

The principal point of contact for the project is Michael Ibrahim, Program Manager, Cultural Investment Portfolio and CIP Advisory Services.

Responses to this Request for Proposals will be considered on a rolling basis until November 9, 2020. Responses received after that date will not be considered.

Mass Cultural Council will review responses to this RFP with the aim of obtaining the best value to complete the projects. Mass Cultural Council may, at its discretion, request one or more consultants to participate in a conference call and answer questions beyond what may be stated elsewhere in this document. Mass Cultural Council reserves the right to request additional information as it may deem relevant from any respondent, including additional references. Mass Cultural Council may stop, revoke, amend, correct or otherwise modify this document or the RFP process at any time. 

Mass Cultural Council reserves the right to accept, reject or negotiate further any proposal received from any respondent. Any responses received by Mass Cultural Council shall become the property of Mass Cultural Council. 

Neither this RFP nor any communication from Mass Cultural Council concerning any successful respondent shall constitute any contractual obligation of Mass Cultural Council until such time as a legally enforceable contract on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Standard Contract Form containing the Commonwealth Terms and Conditions is executed by both Mass Cultural Council and any selected contractor.

  • November 9: Proposals Due
  • November 12-13: Video conference interviews, if required
  • November 18: Content experts selected for recommendation to Council for approval
  • TBD: Council Meeting to approve recommendations and successful respondents notified.

Applicants can email questions or seek project clarity before sending proposals to Michael Ibrahim, Program Manager, Cultural Investment Portfolio and CIP Advisory Services,

Email proposals to David Slatery, Mass Cultural Council Acting Executive Director at Please reference RFP #FY21-CIP-001 for all proposals submitted.

Apply by:
November 09, 2020
About this Organization:

Mass Cultural Council is a state agency that promotes excellence, inclusion, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences to foster a rich cultural life for all Massachusetts residents and contributes to the vitality of our communities and economy.

The Agency pursues this mission through a wide range of grants, initiatives, and advocacy for artists, communities, organizations, and schools.

We believe in the power of culture. Working through the arts, humanities, and sciences, culture is a dynamic force for enriching communities, growing the economy, increasing accessibility, and fostering individual creativity. Culture is intrinsically valuable and unique in its ability to lift the human spirit.

We recognize the essential role that a rich cultural life plays in communities and the lives of individuals. To invest in our cultural life is to invest in our shared future.