This is the second in a series of blog posts sharing information about the lessons learned during the first grantmaking process completed by the Triangle Capacity-Building Network. This was a collaborative effort between funders in the Triangle area of North Carolina. They made philanthropic investments for capacity-building activities in organizations led by people of color.
In the funding application, one question asked about barriers to receiving capacity-building support. A couple of organizations said they had no challenges to accessing capacity-building activities. Some had already received capacity-building support in the past, but not for the project being supported through this funding process.
A significant number of applicants talked about funders focusing on program support and not capacity-building support. This was particularly true when agencies talked about their relationship with governments who strictly fund program-related activities. Applicants shared their perceptions of funders being risk-averse, and donors believing that staff do not need to be paid the same as the for-profit sector if at all, and volunteers should be used. Several organizations acknowledged the potential for reimbursement processes for their program work only, but that they needed demonstrated results from their program efforts, infrastructure to complete billing and reimbursement forms, and cash in the bank to carry them over till these reimbursements are paid. They needed support to build the capacity to take advantage of this reimbursement opportunity.
Organizational size and stage were discussed as barriers to leveraging capacity-building support. Some said their organizations were perceived as too big and too old, and that all types of donors believe they do not need this support. Others talked about being too new and not yet able to demonstrate long-term results to their stakeholders. Many of these smaller organizations said it was more important for them to focus on program development in order to demonstrate they were effective stewards of any support they would receive. Some simply said the competition for these limited, flexible dollars was too great. A few organizations talked about not having fundraising capacity to apply for a lot of different opportunities that enabled them to receive flexible dollars.
Demand for services is increasing. This was an important factor for some organizations who said that this funding opportunity was important. Capacity-building support gave them the ability to invest more in meeting the growing demand.
Finally, organizations talked about the barriers to capacity-building support as a racial equity issue. They experienced the disparity. One organization was very specific in saying that as an organization led by a woman of color, they experienced their peers/partners having more access to different types of flexible funding. One organization also talked about being a small organization led by people of color who were asked to partner with a white-led organization. The expectation was that their organization would bring additional resources and access to specific segments of the population the white-led organization wanted to reach. The reality is they needed extra resources to participate in the partnership.
For the full detailed report, please click on this link.