At about this time last year, I put the finishing touches on a great project with the Triangle Capacity-Building Network. Over the course of six months, I supported Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, the John Rex Endowment, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the Oak Foundation, and Triangle Community Foundation in creating a new grantmaking process. This was the first time funders collaborated to make investments in capacity-building for Triangle nonprofits. The funders were deliberate in making investments in organizations led by people of color. I will share the many lessons learned during that grantmaking process with a series of blog posts. These lessons are extremely relevant to philanthropic organizations making investments focusing on racial equity.
As part of the application process, we discovered that the capacity-building needs of nonprofits fell into two big categories: 1) Marketing and fundraising activities/plans and 2) strategic planning. To a lesser degree, board development, improving organizational equity, and program evaluation and monitoring were also categories for capacity-building requests. Despite explicit instructions that this was not about expanding a service, program, or hiring staff, about 15-20% of the applications still fell into that category. Finally, 3-4 agencies were seeking funding to build the capacity of others that were part of their network.
The final report, found here, contains a more thorough review of the project and the results of the funding.