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What We Care About

Capacity Building

Grantmakers who put the work in to provide effective capacity-building support help ensure that nonprofits have what they need to deliver on their missions over the long term.

27%

of funders increased the total dollars for capacity building from 2011 – 2014

Strong programs exist in strong organizations, and the strongest nonprofits are adaptable and resilient. They have effective leaders, good financial management, the ability to collaborate with others, and the space to plan, executive and assess new strategies. Capacity building is what allows nonprofits to build these skills and expertise — and more — so that they have what it takes to tackle deep-rooted problems.

GEO defines capacity building as the funding and technical assistance to help nonprofits increase specific capacities to deliver stronger programs, take risks, build connections, innovate and iterate. There may not be one right way to go about this, but half-measures or overly prescriptive approaches can do more harm than good. Effective capacity building requires a high degree of trust between nonprofits and grantmakers. Before considering what types of support to provide, we need to have a deep understanding of what nonprofits would find most helpful and a clear picture of what other funders already offer. Grantmakers who put the work in to provide effective capacity-building support help ensure that nonprofits have what they need to deliver on their missions over the long term.

“We recognize that the only way we can achieve our mission and vision is if we have strong grantee partners.”

Paul Beaudet, executive director, Wilburforce Foundation

Helpful Tools and Resources

Stay informed of the emerging trends and promising practices from the field of philanthropy through GEO’s publications and research.

  • Member Story

    Smarter Grantmaking in Action: Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City

    How listening to the needs of its community inspired a foundation to develop a new capacity building program that supports civic leadership, community collaboration and more equitable outcomes.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • June 2017
  • GEOList Members Only

    GEOList: Rapid Response Capacity Building Examples

    The Packard Foundation is currently considering the development of a rapid response capacity building funding mechanism, recognizing that many of our grantees, especially those working on national advocacy, are experiencing new and immediate capacity building needs in the current moment. We are hoping to learn from other funders who may be implementing or considering something similar – specifically on capacity building for leaders, organizations, and networks (not programmatic rapid response). We are aware of and in contact with the Haas Jr Fund and Ford on their efforts. Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom you can share.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • May 2017
  • Member Story

    Smarter Grantmaking in Action: Native Arts and Cultures Foundation

    How empowering community members through capacity building and collaboration strengthens engagement to motivate lasting social change.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • May 2017
  • Event Materials Members Only

    SWW: Supporting Movements Conference Resource: pre-conference workshop presentation

    SWW: Supporting Movements Conference Resource: pre-conference workshop presentation

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • March 2017
  • Executive Summary

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation Grantmaking with a Racial Equity Lens

    Embracing Equity: 7 Steps to Advance and Embed Race Equity and Inclusion Within Your Organization

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • March 2017

Upcoming Events

  • Conferences

    2018 National Conference

    The 2018 National Conference will provide participants with the information, connections and experiences to continue improving and pursuing smarter grantmaking practices that positively impact nonprofit effectiveness.

    • April 2018
  • Remote Learning and Webinars

    Alternative Models to Support Nonprofit Learning Capacity

    Join GEO, as we highlight one session from our Learning Conference 2017, to hear about how we as grantmakers can better support nonprofit learning capacity.

    • August 2017

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Perspectives on Philanthropy

Interesting thoughts and ideas circulating in the GEO community.

  • The CCAT is a leading tool for measuring a nonprofit’s organizational effectiveness in relation to four core capacities – leadership, adaptability, management, and technical – as well as organizational culture.

Related Topics

Strengthening Relationships

When we build trust and tap the knowledge and perspective of nonprofits and the communities we serve, we create better solutions.

Learn More

Flexible, Reliable Funding

When we provide funding that gives nonprofits space to innovate and the security to know our support is here for the long haul, they worry less about their own survival and focus more on responding to shifts in their environment and lifting up their communities.

Learn More
Amy Shields

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