On April 16th, 2015, members met to hear from Community Partners in an ongoing Impact Austin Talking Series: “Where Impact Intersects.”
It's hard to live in a house with a faulty foundation.
You end up running to patch one thing after another just to keep things together over the years. And that's exactly how nonprofits have had to operate; they open their doors and provide much needed programming from a house that's barely standing.
But nonprofits know it takes more than programming to support their mission. They know they need to build capacity and reinforce their foundation but they can’t find the funding. It’s easy to raise money for the wonderful programs, but nearly impossible to find funds to fortify the underlying structure of their organization.
Our Community Partners shared some of their own challenges in building stronger organizations:
"If we had money to market our fee services we would be able to generate our own income and cover some of our expenses."
"We serve so many clients now that we've outgrown our data storage and we can't afford to move to the next level. We're struggling with what we have."
"With a staff of four to serve clients; we don't have time to fundraise, but if we don't fundraise we can't continue our services or grow our programs. We really need to hire a fund developer but there are no grants for that."
"For long-term success of our clients, our website really needs to be in both English and Spanish, but funders don’t want to pay for a website even though it's so important. We don't even have a web developer -- we all just learned to do updates to the site ourselves."
Finally things are changing.
Large and small foundations across the country (and even the government!) have realized the importance of building up the nonprofits themselves and are now offering new capacity building grants, separate from the specific program grants, that focus on building each nonprofit’s future performance, impact and sustainability.
And Impact Austin isn't one to be left behind.
Doing things in the traditional Impact Austin way, with lots of research on trends and best practices, due diligence, and detailed process, Impact Austin has launched a pilot for our version of a capacity building grant: the new Catalyst Grant. So, at our Annual Meeting on June 8th, come prepared to vote on a finalist for the Catalyst Grant based on that organization’s ability to apply the grant according to our definition:
The Catalyst Grant provides funding for the purpose of strengthening or growing a nonprofit organization in order to improve its future performance, impact and sustainability, all in support of its mission and vision.
We’ve listened to our Community Partners and have watched the trends around the country; now we’re excited to be creating solutions that will make Austin area nonprofits more stable, effective and self-sustaining for years to come.