New recipes for capacity building for nonprofits and foundations | Beth's Blog

New recipes for capacity building for nonprofits and foundations

Capacity Building

Flickr photo by DoroQuez

Note from Beth: I’m hosting a small army of guest bloggers, grantmakers, who are attending the  GeoFunders National Conference taking place this week in Seattle.   The GEO community is united by a common drive to challenge the norm in pursuit of better results. GEO’s 2012 National Conference  shares a range of perspectives and new ideas for smarter grantmaking that leads to better results and presents opportunities for participants to learn from the wisdom and experience of their peers. If you’re not attending and curious what funders are learning, you’ll have an opportunity to read some of the ideas and questions being discussed right here on this blog.

New recipes for capacity building for nonprofits and foundations – guest post by Annie Hernandez

After some compelling short talks, people were ready to talk in detail about things they care about. I had the opportunity to facilitate a table conversation about capacity building in transition.  While my original intent was to discuss evaluation and transition of specific capacity building grant programs, the conversation smartly expanded to discuss the future trends in capacity building for the sector and us as foundations.  Following are some of the areas discussed (with the lens of a customized approach when appropriate).  Many of these were touched on in other sessions throughout the conference but I found it helpful to think about these as the ingredients we need to use to build new capacity recipes for the future.

  • Diffuse best technologies for work (i.e. how to use social media to support their brand);
  • Shared data for planning and evaluation;
  • Strategic and business planning around compelling vision with financial analysis for sustainability;
  • Social entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial thinking;
  • Build the network mindset (i.e. understanding the ecosystem that organizations operate in);
  • Support collective capacity building;
  • Shifts of organizational learning; and
  • Succession planning.

The group discussed how we, as foundations, should take this ingredient list and apply it to ourselves.  How are answering the question: capacity building for what?  The group discussed the need to share data with one another about what works and practice collective action to set shared capacity building.

If you are interested in how GEO is working on the conversation of capacity building in transition, contact Lori Bartczak (bartczak at to hear more about the work of the Capacity Building Advisory Committee.

Annie Hernandez

Annie Hernandez, Program Officer, The Lumpkin Family Foundation: I’m a nonprofit advocate that believes I have the best job in the world working to support people who care and make a difference.

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