Capacity Building Grants 101 (Part I)

Hey everyone,

Today I’m getting down to the details about Capacity Building Grants and how they can help your organization, as well as some tips on what you can do to best position yourself for one. This will be a three part series, and this part is exclusively around assessing your organization for readiness for Capacity Building Grants.

What is a capacity building grant?

It’s a grant for a nonprofit that has been doing well for years, but needs more money/time/resources to really scale up to their highest potential. In essence, this is not a grant to get you started, it’s a grant to help you upscale and dream bigger.

How do you know you’re ready for a capacity building grant?

Think through a few of the answers to these questions..

  • How successful have you been with the funds you already have?

  • What is stopping you from building your organization to its highest potential?

  • What does your success rate, donor base and board look like?

If you have a solid board, a potential or strong donor base (note: you should be receiving some donations- individual, board, etc.), you are not operating at a deficit presently, and your answer to question #2 is time, money or human capital, you’re likely a strong candidate for a capacity building grant.

Start with a plan…

It makes sense that the first thing donors are going to want to know once you express interest in a capacity building grant, is how are you going to use their money, and how will you sustain this scaling once the money runs out. In order to continue a long-standing partnership with a potential donor, you should absolutely start out with your best foot forward. You never know, you may need their help in the future, and it’s good practice to be a good steward of donor funds.

On that note, I’m going to leave a few questions to think about as you’re planning for a Capacity Building Grant.

  • Create a potential budget for your expansion project, what will most help you scale, hiring a person? Purchasing new software? Start brainstorming ideas!

  • What does the timeline look like for this expansion initiative? If it’s bringing on a person, consider training and delegation, maybe a job description.

  • How are you going to make this sustainable? Do you have buy-in from your board and other donors? Possible additional revenue streams?

  • Why right now and why this project? Where is the sense of urgency for it?

Next week, we’ll start going over ideal Capacity Building Grant partners. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this series. If you are interested in discussing more around these grants, please email me at :)



Janet Gonzales