Capacity Building

How to Maximize Your Grantees’ Effectiveness

Foundations depend on their grantee partners to deliver on the promise of their mission and maximize their impact in the community they serve. When a foundation makes a longterm commitment to a nonprofit, or anticipates a substantial grant, that partnership is even more critical. So what is the best way to maximize a grantee’s effectiveness? How can foundations more effectively contribute not only to the singular success of a grantee, but also to the overall strength of the sector or region where it makes grants?

Funders who see unrealized potential in their grantees are increasingly choosing to support them with capacity building and technical assistance. Capacity building focuses on a nonprofit’s overall systems and needs including ways it might develop in size, efficiency, and effectiveness through improved leadership, communications, fundraising, and/or technology. Technical assistance, a subset of capacity building, is targeted support to a nonprofit with a specific need or problem. Generally speaking, technical assistance addresses a narrow, well-defined weakness. It can be used for everything from sending staff to a fundraising workshop, to providing funds for public speaking coaching for a nonprofit’s leader.

Capacity building often begins with a consultant working closely with a nonprofit’s leadership team to conduct an organizational assessment of the nonprofit’s governance, financial systems, program delivery, and overall management. This assessment is typically used to formulate a plan to strengthen the organization, giving it greater financial and programmatic sustainability.

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