Lauren Cronin for PhilanTopic recently interviewed Karen Brown, who oversees grantmaking and advises grantees for the Fairfield County Community Foundation (FCCF). Ms. Brown had some interesting things to say about capacity building for nonprofits in trying economic times from a funder's perspective.
Ms. Brown advises nonprofits to focus on transparency and communication with their funders. She give the example of an executive director who sends her a synopisis of his nonprofit's board meetings, which is a small but effective way of keeping her in the loop and maintaining that relationship between the grantee and the funder. She also points out that nonprofits should continue to pursue team-building and professional development initatives, and she suggests that it might be beneficial to look strategically at near-term goals to provide better focus than the usual five-year outlook. Foundations, in turn, can help by funding organizational assesments to analyze where nonprofits are succeeding and where they could boost their efforts.
When asked what foundations can do to build capacity in their nonprofits, she points out the informative workshops and follow-up consulting offered by the FCCF through their Center for Nonprofit Excellence. She also encourages foundations to provide grants for technical assistance and consulting and to ask the grantees directly about their specifc needs, because frequently foundations are capable of providing cheap or even non-monetary assistance.
For more information on capacity building for nonprofits see the GrantSpace knowledge base entry on capacity building.