In Supporting Grantee Capacity: Strengthening Effectiveness Together, we look at how funders approach building capacity with grantees. Through examples from foundations ranging in size, mission, and geography, we explore various strategies for capacity building and the types of awareness that funders can choose to incorporate in decision making to facilitate informed, thoughtful judgments about strengthening organizations.
Listen to our Strengthening Effectiveness podcasts, which elaborate on themes explored in the guide using the spoken wisdom of funders from around the globe; read our online-only case study examples of aspects of capacity building; print and share our illustrations of key themes entwined in capacity building; review our GrantCraft community survey results; and explore resources from the field in our related IssueLab special collection. Additionally, if you would like to share your experiences with capacity building through a guest blog post, let us know.
This guide and related content were supported by a generous grant from Open Society Foundations.
Capacity builders provide invaluable support to foundations and nonprofits all over the world. While there are many providers doing good work with foundations and nonprofits, as the TCC Group identifies in Building the Capacity of Capacity Builders, quality and quantity problems within the capacity-builder marketplace also exist.Read More »
Get better at telling grantee capacitybuilding stories. Storytelling is a powerful tool for assessing and publicly showing the value of capacity-building investments. Multiple funders shared, “We could do better at turning existing data — quantitative and qualitative — on capacity-building efforts into comprehensive stories that demonstrate why capacity building is an important investment for grantmakers to make.”Read More »
Even when grantees recognize their own capacity building as important, it’s not the reason they exist.Read More »
At most foundations, the levels of capacitybuilding skills and experience vary significantly because, as a number of funders put it, “Most foundations hire grantmaking staff more for their issue-based rather than their organizational development expertise.”Read More »
This may be a tougher topic to discuss openly, but certainly one raised consistently.Read More »
Interviewees suggested that it can be useful to periodically come back to the question of “why capacity building?” at your foundation and compare that to how capacity building is manifesting with grantees.Read More »
Even if you think the answer is “none,” don’t skip this reflection.Read More »
Some foundations are teaming up to address capacity-building challenges, sharing issues, problems, and opportunities that come along in an area of common interest.Read More »
Some funders are connected with certain circles of capacitybuilding providers, and others are less familiar with who provides these services.Read More »
While some funders remain unsure as to whether grantees actually prioritize their own capacity building when given general support, others view unrestricted funding as a fundamental investment in organizational capacity and sustainability.Read More »
There are a number of ways funders can support grantee capacity-building efforts. In this section, we break down different support opportunities, including examples of considerations funders have made when implementing them.Read More »
Capacity building is fundamentally about improving effectiveness, often at the organizational level.Read More »
For the most part, funders agreed that grantees need to drive capacity building. We heard, “If a grantee doesn’t want it, don’t force them to undertake it.” But what about if you have a long-time grantee that’s a critical player in a field you’re trying to make change in, and you feel you cannot justify renewal funding without the organization addressing a capacity issue. For example, what if its governance or financial management practices are questionable, bordering on illegal? Or what if you fund an organization to conduct a self-assessment and it uses that to show “we’re fine — we don’t need help,” but you know there are very serious issues that must be addressed? What do you do if you can’t renew without the organization‘s addressing issues of capacity?Read More »
In May 2014, GrantCraft surveyed the field to learn what we could about capacity building. 260 funders and nonprofit practitioners graciously replied and very much helped to shape our guide Supporting Grantee Capacity: Strengthening Effectiveness Together. We couldn't include all of the interesting insights from the survey in the guide, so we're happy to share that data here with you.Read More »
Most of the grantmakers we interviewed believe in capacity building as an important strategy. Yet we know there are many reasons other funders hesitate to engage in capacity-building funding.Read More »