Statewide Capacity Collaborative
We know what the recession has meant for nonprofits: more people in need, higher demand for services, and a shrinking pool of resources.
As funders, what is our role in keeping our nonprofit sector alive and thriving?
In 2009, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Campion Foundation, Medina Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, The Seattle Foundation, Sherwood Trust and SVP Seattle, attempted to answer that question.
They hired the Giving Practice to visit fourteen communities across the state, conduct lengthy interviews, and complete a capacity building gap analysis. Their final report: Assessment of Capacity Building in Washington State highlights specific investments and strategies to help strengthen Washington’s nonprofit “ecosystem” – from providing more general operating funds to filling gaps in knowledge and service delivery (e.g. solid trainings and resources for nonprofit financial management).
Through the Statewide Capacity Collaborative new initiatives have taken shape to advance select capacity building investments directly resulting from the study.
501 Commons: Statewide Nonprofit Resource Directory
SVP Seattle, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Campion Foundation and the Seattle Foundation jointly funded 501 Commons (originally Executive Service Corps of Washington) – a capacity building institution providing services primarily to nonprofits in King County. Our funds supported the development and ongoing management of the Statewide Nonprofit Resource Directory, an online directory for nonprofits seeking vetted consultants and best practice information for various capacity building projects.
Local Intermediary Organizations
Philanthropy Northwest, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, funds select community foundations that advance capacity building for nonprofits in their communities. Philanthropy Northwest is also providing staff support to a peer network of 26 community foundations so that they are able to convene, learn from each other, and share best practices.
The Medina Foundation invests in the 14 counties that surround the Puget Sound. They are deepening their investment in the nonprofits they currently fund by piloting a capacity building initiative in both Whatcom and Skagit counties.
SVP Seattle examined three capacity building areas that are fundamental to nonprofit success: board governance, financial management, and strategic planning. We defined what “101 knowledge” in these areas looks like, and identified best practices across the sector. The next step is figuring out the most effective way to provide access to related resources and trainings for nonprofits throughout Washington.
Washington Nonprofits: A Voice In Olympia
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Campion Foundation, SVP Seattle and the Seattle Foundation have all contributed funding to support the planning and business development phase of Washington Nonprofits – an organization that aims to provide a voice for nonprofits across the state through advocacy, education, capacity building and networking.
Philanthropy Northwest Learning Circle
Several of the Statewide Capacity Collaborative funders have participated in events and workshops to advance capacity building knowledge and interest among regional funders. They brought in speakers from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, hosted case studies, shared the results of the Assessment Report more broadly and coordinated education sessions at Philanthropy Northwest’s annual conference.