Learning and Growing as a Collective: Capacity Building Grant Committee

Capacity Building Grant Committee members

This fall, 15 WaWF members joined the pilot Capacity Building Grant Committee to explore collective grant making using trust-based philanthropic practices. We are happy to announce our four grant award winners: Ingersoll Gender Center, KVRU, Para Los Niños, and Somali Health Board. Each received a $22,500 capacity building grant!

Background of CBGC

The capacity building grant came forward thanks to the community and Foundation working together. Last year, our Impact Assessment Committee asked for funding to continue to support grantee organizations after the Pooled Fund Grant award. Around the same time, WaWF retired the Individual Grant Recommendation (IGR) and asked members how they’d like to see these funds being used. Members’ support for a capacity building grant was strong! Our Board then approved funding which created $90,000 of grants to distribute.

This past summer, we convened a Task Force consisting of IAC ED’s, Foundation members, and representatives from the Statewide Capacity Collaborative (SCC) to co-create the design of the fund, including agreeing on the following definition of capacity building:

“Equipping organizations with the leadership, technology, organizational culture, and systems needed to respond to a rapidly changing world, sustain successful programs and activities, and grow impact over time”.

What the CBGC learned

In order to streamline the process for organizations and members in this challenging year, the Task Force decided to:

  • Re-use PFG grant applications from the Top 15 of the past two years
  • Use the additional lens of COVID-19 and the events of 2020 in decision-making
  • Let the committee decide the size and amount of the grants (up to $90K)
  • Let grantee organizations decide how and when to use the funds to build capacity

In this process, the committee leaned into WaWF’s values. Here are a few in action:

Share power: The community, WaWF committees, membership, and Board each determined some aspect of this fund. The decision-making was shared by many groups in the community and at WaWF. In addition, Communities Rise and Delta Vision provided excellent learning sessions. Click here for Capacity Building 101 and 102 sessions.

Be in community: We realized one way we could reduce workload on organizations was for the committee to take on the work of research. We formed study buddies to learn and connect during these socially distanced times.

Embrace discomfort: We were piloting capacity building, trust-based practices, and streamlined processes with 15 committee members on Zoom! We realized that coming to consensus on Zoom takes thoughtful discourse and time!

Advance equity: All of the eligible grant applicants are focused on advancing equity and centering racial and gender identify so it was a win-win regardless of who received the grants.

Word cloud built by committee members during their last meeting

At the close of the committee work, members volunteered to continue building relationships with the four grantees post-award. We also discussed ways to continue learning about capacity building and to share the knowledge with our fellow members, especially as the Pooled Fund Grants process prepares for a new cycle.

It was an honor and pleasure to be able to chair the first-ever Capacity Building Grant Committee. Many thanks to our fabulous staff partner, Aviva Stampfer, who makes everything come together with professionalism and grace. Finally, thank you CBGC members: Julie Burg, Elissa Director, Toby Donner, Kathy Edwards, Katie Farrell, Barbara Fielden, Sharon Griggins, Laura Hall, Jill Hearne, Jaylene Howards, Nikki Huang, Lisa Loughney, Laura Midgley, and Alison Varco. Thank you for coming on this ride with us and helping us collect best practices for future grant funds!

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