Giving Compass’ Take:
• Sean Watterson explains how the Ford Foundation’s BUILD program is increasing nonprofit capacity and providing general operating support to achieve impact. The early results are promising.
• How can other funders use this model to shift their philanthropic strategies? Why is funding capacity building and general operating support not standard practice in philanthropy?
All too often program-specific funding fails to adequately support the management and administrative functions necessary for the effective delivery of those very same programs. In response, in 2016, the Ford Foundation started an initiative for Building Institutions and Networks (BUILD) that explicitly seeks to fill this gap by providing funds for general operating support and capacity building. BUILD is designed to provide $1 billion in grants over five years to social justice nonprofits. The program is still in early days, but initial results are promising.
Two of BUILD’s grant recipients that have used Ford funding to expand their operations are United We Dream network (UWD), an immigrant rights organization, and PRISMA (Programa Regional de Investigación sobre Desarrollo and Medio Ambiente, or the Regional Program of Development and Environmental Research), a land-use nonprofit working with indigenous peoples in El Salvador. The operating support has freed both groups from the tedium of having to reapply to Ford for year-to-year grants. Further, the groups have been able ramp up their programming. UWD’s grant could not have come at a better time, coming as it does after an explosion of need following the inauguration of the Trump administration. Simply put, BUILD grants are making an impact today that might continue to pay off far into the future for nonprofits and their stakeholders.
Read the full article about BUILD by Sean Watterson at Nonprofit Quarterly.
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