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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: Finding—and Using—the Right Tool for the Job

    Organizational assessment tools can be used to gauge an organization’s strategic focus, leadership, governance, human resource capacity, financial and fundraising structure, and learning and evaluation ability. The Hewlett Foundation commissioned a scan to discover which tools are available, and how these tools can be most effectively used.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • August 2018
  • GEOList Members Only

    GEOList Summary: Grantee Evaluation/Data Infrastructure Funding

    Hello GEO Members, The McGregor Fund is interested in hearing from other funders that offer grants (either in addition to programmatic funding, or as stand-alone grants) for grantee evaluation capacity and/or data infrastructure. These grants might support evaluation consultants, or experts in data management or data system acquisition. They might support training to strengthen grantee data collection, evaluation, or performance measurement. In my scan of GEO archives and the web so far, I have found numerous foundations that fund research, or evaluation of the impact of their funding, and some who fund IT infrastructure, but less that are focused on building grantee capacity to better manage and use their data to inform programmatic and strategic decision-making. If you know of any funders that do this, or do something similar yourself, I would love to hear from you, and am curious about how these grant opportunities are assessed by staff, and any reflections on the value of these grants.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • July 2018
  • Event Materials Members Only

    2018 National Conference Discussion Guide: The GEO Community at 20

    Over the last 20 years, the GEO community has worked to transform a desire for results into real improvements by creating spaces where grantmakers learn together and use that learning to drive concrete changes in the way grantmaking work gets done. As a field, we've made progress. And, as we continue learning together, our understanding of effective philanthropy evolves.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • June 2018
  • Perspective

    Reflections from the 2018 National Conference

    We were so excited to welcome so many thought leaders to GEO’s 2018 National Conference — and that many took the time to share their takeaways after the conference. We’ve collected those posts here.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • June 2018
  • GEOList Members Only

    GEOList Summary: Alternative Funding Models

    Allegany Franciscan Ministries is interested in utilizing various methods other than traditional grant-making to support communities in our place-based initiative, such as social impact funds, micro-grants/loans, loans (directly or through a CDFI), payments to for-profit entities and consultants to deliver a service such as community outreach and marketing or leadership development, and others. I am both looking for resources and example, AND looking for someone who can present to my board of directors on June 19 as part of a panel, describing an alternative practice from the lens of a foundation.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • May 2018

Upcoming Events

  • Conferences

    2020 National Conference

    • April 2020
  • Remote Learning and Webinars

    The Golden State Learning Series

    This six-part virtual learning series is designed exclusively for California grantmakers and is offered in partnership by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and Philanthropy California.

    • September 2018

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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.

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Amy Shields

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