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Small Dollars, Big Impact

Post date: 
August 31st, 2015
Article Type: 
AGM Blog Post
Article Topic: 

If you’re like the rest of us, you sit at your desk hoping for the IT department to email you an update that you’re getting a new computer or printer or updated software. Every time your computer acts up or the printer jams you wish you had the budget to run out and purchase new equipment. We all want to work efficiently but to do so means having the best equipment. One group of organizations that could always use a little extra help in this area is nonprofits.

With a budget as tight and regulated as a nonprofit’s there isn’t much room for technology upgrades. So how can we help? Providing grants specifically for capacity building or general operating support allow nonprofits to put your dollars where they are desperately needed to help the organization run more effectively. In the book, Investing in Capacity Building: A Guide to High-Impact Approaches, Barbara Blumenthal defines capacity building as "actions that improve nonprofit effectiveness," with the following components of effectiveness: organizational and financial stability, program quality. Capacity building grants can often be found for many projects such as, organizational assessment, evaluations, strategic planning, board development, staff training, fundraising planning, success planning, communications strategies, mergers and restructuring efforts, membership development and technology improvements.

If you already give capacity building support, remember to encourage your nonprofit partners to apply. I often hear that partners don’t want to expose their “weaknesses” for fear of jeopardizing future funding but I believe that this exposure is a good thing. It gives me a chance to target funding to an area that needs improvement. Additionally, it will deepen your relationship with your partner as they will see the benefit of having open and candid conversations.

So the next time your computer acts up or you can’t find the mysterious paper jam in the printer, remember just how much capacity building support means to your partners.


Kendra Wotkyns is the Vice President, Community Relations at BNY Mellon. In this role she is responsible for nonprofit partner engagement and capacity building.

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