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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.

  • Perspective

    Cross-post: Learning from Two Decades of Grantee Relationships

    Decision-makers such as elected officials and institutional funders have historically ignored and underinvested in BIPOC communities. Conscientious funders are asking big, long-overdue questions: how do grantmaking policies, practices, and cultures play a role in perpetuating imbalances in power and resource allocation? How can we, as grantmakers, address that?

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • September 2020
  • Perspective

    Cross-post: How to Discuss Merger Exploration with Grantees

    In the COVID-19 world, funders may increasingly find themselves in discussions with nonprofit partners about merger exploration as a potential way to ensure that mission and organizational needs continue to be met. We are seeing an upswell of interest and are encouraged by the sector’s willingness to provide funding for sustained collaboration efforts.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • September 2020
  • Perspective

    Adapting Capacity Building During COVID-19

    GEO’s Capacity Building Champions, a community of GEO members who are passionate about stronger nonprofit partners, convened recently to discuss how grantmakers are adapting their capacity strengthening offerings to meet the needs of their grantee partners and communities during the COVID-19 crisis.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • April 2020
  • Perspective

    Smarter Grantmaking Practices During—and Beyond—COVID-19

    As a community of grantmakers advocating for philanthropy to put nonprofits and communities at the center of our work, we at GEO think the most important questions grantmakers should be asking center around how you can change your practices to be of greater service to your grantees and others serving communities during this time of crisis and beyond. However, these practices are not only needed during times of crisis. We can make permanent changes that shift more power to people working on the ground to strengthen communities.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • April 2020
  • Perspective

    Joint Statement Calling for Increased Giving In This Time of Crisis

    Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions. The challenges that we are collectively facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are changing the face of our societies here at home and across the globe. We’re all doing things we never imagined doing, but we’re doing them in the interest of the greater good.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • April 2020

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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.

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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
Nichole Hoeflich

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