Why We Focus on Enhanced Capacity
In the best of times, leading a strong and effective nonprofit organization is tremendously difficult. And today, organizations are doing more with much less, in the face of greater community need and with a minimal safety net. Chicago’s nonprofits provide essential public services, tackle inequities and have a positive and lasting effect on our city. Building the capacity of these organizations and the broader social sector is essential for creating a Chicago where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Years ago, Polk Bros. Foundation established the Enhanced Capacity focus area, recognizing that increasing organizational and sector capacity leads to improved programs and better outcomes for Chicagoans. Today, we regularly hear from grantees all across our focus areas that capacity-building support is even more critically needed now.
This is a sentiment we hear echoed across Chicago’s nonprofit sector.
Engaging at the intersection of sectors and issues gives us a unique opportunity — and responsibility — not only to focus some of our grantmaking on capacity building, but also to engage in partnerships and lead efforts that can increase capacity-building funding in Chicago. Along the way, we are focused on listening to our grantees, learning from our work in the field and using it all to shape our grantmaking.
What We Support
To ensure our existing grantees can better achieve their missions and to generate more positive outcomes for Chicagoans, Polk Bros. Foundation supports capacity building at the organization level and at the sector level.
- Organizational development (invitation only), for current grantees to partner with outside experts in financial planning and management, marketing and communication, technology improvements, and strategic restructuring and mergers. These are the types of capacity-building support grantees told us they need most, but often have trouble funding. Nonprofits that have the infrastructure, skills and resources they need have great potential to create strong outcomes.
- Strengthening sectors, for efforts that focus on technical assistance, systems integration, collaboration, or advocacy to create resources, improve policies, and facilitate an effective environment for the work. Sectors that collaborate, innovate, and advocate are resilient in the face of economic, political and other environmental changes and can guide solutions that go beyond the walls of any single organization.