Refining Our Foundation’s Capacity Building Framework - Exponent Philanthropy
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Refining Our Foundation’s Capacity Building Framework

For more than two decades, Foellinger Foundation has provided capacity building grants to nonprofits in Allen County, Indiana. We are proud to support the external work those organizations do in our community, and we are equally proud to support the important work they do internally to improve their effectiveness.

In 2018, we reflected on the capacity work accomplished over the past 20 years. We concluded it was an appropriate time to refine our capacity building grant framework and focus on two characteristics: mission alignment and organizational financial participation.

Mission alignment

The foundation is sharpening its focus to provide capacity building support to organizations whose mission is aligned with Foellinger Foundation’s and who have shown the ability to strengthen their organizations through other foundation investments.

Foellinger Foundation bases its work on the principles and values of our donors, Helene and Esther Foellinger: integrity, accountability, responsibility, and results. We work diligently to make sure those principles play out in our interactions with applicants, and with grantees in the categories of early childhood, youth, and family development; and community interests.

We will more consciously direct organizations that are not in the core of our mission to funders with whom they better align.

Organizational financial participation 

Organizations that commit a portion of their own resources to a capacity building process (or secure a portion from another source) will make the strongest case for grant support. Amounts and types of these commitments may vary by organization and project.


To prepare our grantees for this refined alignment, we created resources for both organizations that aligned and did not align with the new process.

Nonprofit organizations that align with the foundation’s mission will work with our Director of Programs to determine if they may proceed with the capacity building application. If they proceed, they are provided our Capacity Manual. It includes resources and information about best practices and common building blocks for organizational effectiveness, and helps the organization apply for a capacity building grant. (If you are interested in learning more about the Capacity Manual and its purpose, call me. I look forward to talking with you about our work.)

Just as important, if it is determined that a nonprofit organization does not align with the foundation’s mission or has not met other eligibility requirements, the organization may access our Resource Guide for Capacity Building. It was developed to provide resources for community nonprofits that are beyond the scope and strategy of the foundation’s grantmaking. It includes a list of resources and a “do-it-yourself” assessment.

I believe this refinement will help the foundation make more effective capacity grants. In turn, our investment in our grantees will help them better serve their constituencies.

In the end, isn’t that what we all hope will be the result?

Cheryl Taylor has been president and CEO of the Foellinger Foundation since 2001 and a member of its board of directors since 2002. She serves on its executive, investment, and finance committees, and provides staff support for its board development committee. She also serves on the board of directors of Community Partnerships, Inc.


  1. Fran Sykes

    Good article for those of us who understand that adequate capacity is necessary for project sustainability.

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