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Topical Resource Lists for Grantmakers

Capacity Building: A Topical Resource List

Capacity building, or grantmaking designed to develop the strength and effectiveness of nonprofit organizations and to increase the leverage of philanthropic dollars, is an increasing area of interest for grantmakers. These publications explore various aspects of this topic:

Backer, Thomas E., et al. Exploring Foundation Financial Investments in Nonprofit Capacity Building. Encino, CA: Human Interaction Research Institute, 2006.
The researchers provide statistics related to the nature and characteristics of foundation financial investments based on recent surveys. In addition to these facts, they offer recommendations for future actions.

Bartczak, Lori (ed.) A Funder's Guide to Organizational Assessment: Tools, Processes, and Their Use in Building Capacity. Saint Paul, MN: Fieldstone Alliance, 2005.
In this book, primarily directed to grantmakers with an interest in furthering capacity-building, a variety of assessment tools are presented and explained. Part 1 of the book provides tools that funders can utilize in evaluating the work of their grantees; Part 2 focuses on the work of grantmakers themselves, offering techniques for appraising their own efforts.

Blumenthal, Barbara. Investing in Capacity Building: A Guide to High-Impact Approaches. New York, NY: Foundation Center, 2003.
Defining capacity building as "actions that improve nonprofit effectiveness," the author identifies these components of effectiveness: organizational and financial stability, program quality, and growth. Blumenthal developed the principles she elucidates by a review of research, evaluations of current programs, and interviews with foundations and consultants. The book provides guidance to both funders and nonprofits for developing strategies that work to enhance performance.

Brothers, John and Anne Sherman. Building Nonprofit Capacity: A Guide to Managing Change Through Organizational Lifecycles. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2011.
Intended for nonprofit executives and board members, this book helps leaders use lifecycles to effectively manage deliberate change processes, such as navigating a turnaround in a declining organization. Chapters examine the five lifecycle phases (start-up, growth, maturity, decline, turnaround) and include interviews with experts in the field as well as case studies.

Connolly, Paul. Maximizing Foundation Effectiveness: Aligning Program Strategy, Organizational Capacity, Strategic Planning, and Performance Assessment to Achieve Success. New York, NY: TCC Group, 2008.
Available online.

Connolly, Paul and Carol Lukas. Strengthening Nonprofit Performance: A Funder's Guide to Capacity Building. Saint Paul, MN: Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, 2002.
Defining capacity building as “the process of strengthening an organization in order to improve its performance and impact,” the authors explicate how grantmakers can provide the strongest support for capacity building among their grantees. This book not only explains how, but also clarifies why this type of funding is important, and elucidates the major types of support that enhance performance. A four-step plan to support capacity building is outlined and explained. Also included is an historical overview of this type of grantmaking.

Cornforth, Chris and Jill Mordaunt. "Organisational Capacity Building: Understanding the Dilemmas for Foundations of Intervening in Small- and Medium-Size Charities." Voluntas, vol. 22 (September 2011): p. 428-49.
Focuses on the role of foundations in organizational capacity building in the third sector. Presents results of research into the Charities Aid Foundation's (CAF) Grants Programme in the UK, which provides consultancy and financial support to help develop capacity of small- to medium-size charities. Finds that CAF's approach could benefit by using a new model of "engaged" capacity building which offers support through a consultancy network that the foundation actively recruits, supports, and manages.

Draper, Lee. "Funder's Little Shop of Horrors: Misguided Attempts at Nonprofit Capacity Building." Foundation News & Commentary vol. 46 (September-October 2005): p. 18-27.
Draper presents five case studies (nonprofit names are not divulged) that illustrate how funding of technical assistance can have unwanted consequences. Her analysis of the problems that occurred accompany each case study, along with her recommendations for better strategies.

Draper, Lee. "When Capacity-Building Grants Flatline." Foundation News & Commentary vol. 44 (May-June 2003): p. 28-34.
Advice for grantmakers when the grants they've given for capacity building efforts seem to fail. Includes several case examples, and how the funders reacted.

Hawaii Community Foundation: Organization Capacity Building/PONO Leadership Program: Key Findings and Recommendations. San Francisco, CA: Teamworks, 2009.
Summarizes the results of the foundation's survey of 187 grantee organizations to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of two of its programs related to nonprofit management and professional development. Available online.

Lessons From the Field: From Understanding to Impact. Cambridge, MA: Center for Effective Philanthropy, 2010.
Describes how foundations cultivate an understanding of the fields in which they fund through capacity building, close working relationships with experts, and deep knowledge of constituencies. Staff interviews from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the Energy Foundation, and the Wilburforce Foundation. Available online.

Light, Paul C.; Hubbard, Elizabeth T. and Barbara Kibbe. The Capacity Building Challenge: Part I—A Research Perspective; Part II—A Funder's Response. New York, NY: Foundation Center, 2004.
Part I: A Research Perspective by Paul Light and Elizabeth Hubbard examines the capacity building efforts of eight funders and proposes a system for understanding and measuring the outcomes of such efforts. Part II: A Funder's Response by Barbara Kibbe presents one grantmaker's perspective on applying the lessons from this research to the craft of making grants that build nonprofit capacity.

Mandeville, John. "Public Policy Grant Making: Building Organizational Capacity Among Nonprofit Grantees." Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, vol. 36 (June 2007): p. 282-98.
Analyzes capacity-building grants made by public policy foundations, with an emphasis on three dimensions of capacity building: research and communications, resource development, and governance and management. Includes an examination of grantmaker investment in the overall capacity of grantees.

McCambridge, Ruth. "Capacity Building For What?" Nonprofit Quarterly, vol. 17 (Winter 2010): p. 6-11.
The author asserts the need for changes in the capacity-building field in order to reflect changing nonprofit structures. Includes insights based on a discussion with 60 capacity-building consultants.

Millesen, Judith L.; Carman, Joanne G.; and Angela L. Bies. "Why Engage? Understanding the Incentive to Build Nonprofit Capacity." Nonprofit Management & Leadership, vol. 21 (Fall 2010): p. 5-20.
The authors assess the impact of organizational theory upon decisions to engage in efforts to improve organizational capacity.
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