Capacity-Building Grants: Learn to Be a Self-Sustaining Nonprofit, Part 1
[Editor's note: This is part 1 of a two-part series. Check back next week for part 2.]
Currently, there are more than 1.6 million registered nonprofit organizations in the U.S., and more seemingly pop up every day. But for every large, well-known organization like the Salvation Army or ASPCA, there are literally hundreds of small organizations struggling to stay afloat.
One of the big reasons for that, says Tom Gagen, CEO of Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, is that many "small [nonprofit] agencies start up because of a special need in the community, but they have no idea what they're doing in the first year or two and just get way in over their head." Their intentions are pure, but they don't have the resources, training, time, staff and/or understanding to sustain their missions.
That's why Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Medical Center developed what it calls a capacity-building grant specifically geared toward promising nonprofits in its region that need to learn how to become self-sustaining for the long haul.
"There were people in the community that we wanted to collaborate with because they were either doing a good job or had the potential to do an excellent job but were lacking in some particular area — maybe they didn't have a strong board, maybe they didn't know how to market themselves, could have a been a number of different things," Gagen says. "… We wanted to make sure that we were investing our funds most appropriately. It wasn't just to give money. It was to help the community and help these organizations become self-sustaining."
To do that, Sutter — which provides several grant opportunities for nonprofits in the Sacramento area — decided it would provide a $50,000 grant to help smaller organizations become self-sustaining. However, Sutter didn't just hand over a $50,000 check. Instead, it teamed with local full-service nonprofit marketing agency 3fold Communications, which then would help the grant recipients implement sustainable solutions. The plan is that after the grant runs out, recipients are set up for the long term and no longer need Sutter Medical Center's help.