Capacity Building Update: Understanding and Learning Impact
When we launched our grantmaking in 2012, we did not anticipate capacity building would be a central part of our work. Our board, most of whom transitioned from the board of Moses Taylor Hospital following its 2012 sale, was primarily interested in directly investing in the health of people in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Yet very quickly we came to appreciate that our success was dependent upon building effective partnerships with resilient, well-resourced nonprofits. Some nonprofit partners had the resources and tools required to operate effectively, but many others needed support in key areas like strategic planning, fundraising, program evaluation, and board development. Few were regularly utilizing external data to inform their decision-making or engaging with policymakers to inform the legislation that undergirds their work. By and large, our local funding colleagues were not investing in this work.
We initiated relationships with Scranton Area Community Foundation (SAF) and The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development (The Institute) to explore how we might build community interest and investment in nonprofit capacity building. SAF’s Center for Community Leadership and Nonprofit Excellence had previously sponsored programs on strategic planning that provided a roadmap for expanded programming.
The Institute’s annual community indicators reports provided annual data on key community indicators that diverse stakeholders used to monitor trends. Through annual program grants to SAF and The Institute, we aimed to expand that existing work and gauge community appetite, partner capacity, and the long-term potential for broader nonprofit capacity-building programming in our region.
As community interest grew and our board’s understanding of capacity building increased, we began talking about capacity building as an area of investment for Moses Taylor Foundation. Eventually, we prioritized capacity building as one of our five 2019-2023 strategic plan priorities. With this increased commitment, we contracted with Putnam Consulting to evaluate the impact of our capacity-building investments to date and make recommendations for next steps.
We look forward to releasing this finished report and conducting a webinar on how capacity building has taken root in Northeastern Pennsylvania this fall.