Friday, April 9, 2010

Capacity-Building in Nonprofits


Pat and I just finished three weeks of grant proposal reviews for $264,000 aimed at increasing the capacity of local nonprofits under the federal Compassion Capital Fund. Created in 2002, the Administration for Children and Families' Compassion Capital Fund (CCF) is a key component of the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiative. The primary purpose of the CCF is to help faith-based and community organizations increase their effectiveness, enhance their ability to provide social services, expand their organizations, diversify their funding sources, and create collaborations to better serve those in need. Targeted capacity-building grants are a demonstrated way to assist organizations in building their capacity. The funding will not be for direct service, but for lasting changes in organizations that will have a sustainable impact on the delivery of services.

Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, the nonprofit established in 1968 under the Office of Economic Opportunity's implementation of Congress's 1960's anti-poverty programs, received one of 14 of these grants nationwide. Pat and I participated on the community review committee, receiving 46 proposals asking $651,000. The agency will be announcing the grantees and awards in the next few days, but I wanted to begin the process of implementation by announcing our own continuing contributions to the strengthening of local nonprofits.

We came away from the review understanding that most of the agencies were seeking to expand their abilities to seek out and secure new sources of funding. Proposals asked to build capacity for grant-researching and writing, find and cultivate new local donors, and establish fee-based marketing strategies for current services. It was clear that current public funds are drying up, and these agencies are beginning to want new skills and information.

In the pursuit, there were plenty of consultants and computers being requested. It appears that most of the applicants have concluded that electronic research, online collaboration, and data records storage are essential needs.

In the coming months, we'll be providing some of our own resources to building the capacity of these agencies. Because we were able to see all the proposals, we believe there are opportunities for collaboration in the implementation of these grants. We will be encouraging CAPSC to continue its support for them, but understand that the federal grants will end in September.

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