Today I want us to get honest about capacity building.

The phrase “capacity building” is simple. It is a “buzz word” in the nonprofit community yet board members and executive directors have been reaching out on a weekly basis to ask Funding for Good:

 

“What exactly is capacity building and how can I get a grant to do it?”  

Capacity building is often defined as the “process of developing and strengthening the skills, instincts, abilities, processes, and resources that organizations and communities need to survive, adapt, and thrive in the fast-changing world.

“In a nutshell, anything you do to grow resources and create sustainability for your organization/program is considered “capacity building.”

Now that the term has been defined let’s dig a little deeper…

How many of you have given yourself a pat on the back for raising 100% of special program funds through a grant?

Awesome!

Now…

How many of you feel perplexed because program grants are so much easier to find and secure than general operating or “capacity building grants”?

 

I invite you to consider the following three simple myths about capacity building grants:

  • Myth: They are rarer than a pink and purple giraffe! 

Fact:  Most donors want their dollars to play a critical role in capacity building even if the grant descriptions don’t list “capacity building” as a priority. EVERY grant provides an opportunity to build capacity.

  • Myth: Capacity grants only fund infrastructure of an organization.

Fact: Remember the definition of capacity building? Grants can often utilize funds to build capacity in the areas of staffing, marketing, resource development, one time projects, programs, and so much more!

  • Myth: Capacity grants require that organizations use funds to hire a professional consultant to implement the project.

Fact: While hiring an expert might be a great option for helping your organization achieve capacity building goals, it is rarely a grant requirement. Donors expect the organization to be good stewards of funds and to secure qualified individuals to implement and oversee the project/program. If you can justify why a particular staff member, board member, or community volunteer is best suited for the task you should be just fine!