After hearing representatives from one of Sandy Springs’s best-known nonprofits ask not to be cut off from city donations, City Council members are continuing to tweak the city’s policy for such gifts.

Members of the Sandy Springs Society, one of the city’s fundraising charities, told council members Feb. 4 they believed proposed changes to the policy would prohibit them from receiving grants.

“The society and I have major concerns about the modification,” society President Kate Dalba said. “What we’re concerned about is wording that would exclude nonprofits like us from applying for direct grants for community events.”

City officials are rethinking the city’s policy on grants to nonprofits in an effort to get better control over how the money is spent.

Proposed changes in the city’s policy would limit donations to organizations that provide programs. The Sandy Springs Society raises money to donate to other groups, but operates two large community events as fundraisers.

“It has to be something that is programmatic,” Mayor Rusty Paul said. “There’s a reason for that: We have to maintain a connection to the money. These monies have to be segregated so they can be accounted for. We have to make sure the money goes to a particular program.”

The city now provides $422,500 in direct appropriations to a variety of nonprofit groups ranging from $127,500 to Sandy Springs Youth Sports for maintenance and program support to $5,000 to the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce for dues and support of special events, according to the city.

The city also budgets $50,000 that local nonprofits compete for. Those grants ranged from $10,000 for Act3 Productions to $2,500 for Senior Services North Fulton for a new kiln, city officials reported.

Paul has said the city does not require the same financial reporting from all nonprofit groups receiving grants from the city.

Members of the society say their nonprofit organization – which Paul described as including hundreds of “the most powerful women in Sandy Springs” – has provided more than $2.56 million in grants since it was created in 1988.

“For 25 years, we have been part of the landscape of this city, both literally and figuratively,” former President Valerie Love told council members.

Love said the organization wanted the city to include language in its new policy “that would allow us to come to the table” when grants are awarded.

Council member Andy Bauman said the city’s policy should encourage more events. “We need to have more of these events, not less,” Bauman said. “My bent here is to be more open and not find ways we can’t do it. You go to these events and see ‘Sponsored by the Roswell Arts Commission.’ I want that for our city.”

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.