5 Ways to Help Nonprofits Build Capacity 🌞

Think like a VC Part IV: 5 Ways You Can Help Your Nonprofit Partners Start Building Capacity Today

If you want to amplify the impact of your community investment, helping your nonprofit partners build capacity is one of the most effective paths toward real change.

As head of our foundation and social responsibility at Delta Dental of California, I’m working to explore how capacity building enhances our impact and accelerates the goals we share.

As I continue to talk about how thinking like a venture capitalist can elevate your corporate giving, VCs will often bring their expertise and connections to their companies. This tactic really stands out to me because it’s a relatively minimal investment that can yield exponential returns for your nonprofit partners. That’s why I’m sharing five ways you can help your grantees start building capacity today.

#1) Get to know your grantees and their needs

You’d be surprised at the opportunities that present themselves when you take the time to ask questions about what’s working, what’s not, and what stands in the way of your nonprofit partners’ growth.

When you determine what they are, identify projects you might like to fund that won’t break your bank but will pay off big for your grantees.

Through a short conversation with one of our partners, we found that the main limitation to treating more people was that only one staff member could open the facility during high-demand evening hours. So we gave the organization funds to hire an additional tech a few nights a week and expand their services to the community.

#2) Lend your expertise

Since nonprofit organizations are often stretched for funds and resources, lending our expertise is a relatively low investment/high-return capacity-building strategy.

At Delta Dental, we’ve loaned out programmers, designers, communication experts, and general volunteers. Other high-demand professionals include accounting and finance, business strategists, data experts, and brand marketers.

I know of a large organization that loans its call center operations to nonprofit partner organizations. This service is tremendously valuable to the recipients, with minimal investment for the grant-making organization.

#3) Sponsor training

Chances are, your company offers employees access to training services and software. You can extend that benefit to your partner organizations. If your company doesn’t have training programs, pursue them independently with your grantees.

This past year, we sent six partner practitioners from across California to training workshops held by the National Network for Oral Health Access. There, they learned best practices for running federally qualified health care centers.

#4) Share knowledge and inspiration

Team up with grantees and other experts in your field to share best practices, latest developments, and new ideas.

One way to do this is to co-host industry webinars. Recently, we hosted an event with our Chief Dental Officer and a partner that develops oral health education for children. They facilitated a lively, interactive discussion that raised awareness about children’s oral health and the education program — CATCH Healthy Smiles — Let’s Talk About Kids’ Oral Health.

Industry network sponsorship is another low-cost approach to stimulate capacity building through knowledge building, collaboration, conferences, and networking with industry peers.

#5) Share your connections

Your network is one of the most valuable assets you can share. For example, you may have a business partner who can help take a grantee to the next level. Or fellow nonprofit partners who would make ideal co-collaborators. So take stock of your grantees and think about possible connections.

At Delta Dental, we’ve connected our sponsored, reduced-price, and free health care clinics with our food bank partners. That way, clinics can offer wrap-around services to clients experiencing food insecurity. We’ve also connected clinics with volunteer dental assistance from within our provider network.

Capacity building enhances both your investment and your impact

Funding may have its limits — but your impact doesn’t have to. When you push your investment to its most efficient use, everyone wins.

Capacity building makes the most of your assets and expertise, helps grantees grow and expand services, and brings you closer to the goals you share.

Let’s start a conversation and build the change we want to see.

Kenzie

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Kenzie Ferguson is a recognized leader in corporate foundations, impact investing, social impact strategies and corporate community engagement.

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Kenzie Ferguson

Kenzie Ferguson

Kenzie Ferguson is a recognized leader in corporate foundations, impact investing, social impact strategies and corporate community engagement.

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