General Operating Support (or Unrestricted) Grants

While some funders remain unsure as to whether grantees actually prioritize their own capacity building when given general support, others view unrestricted funding as a fundamental investment in organizational capacity and sustainability.

  • Some funders view general operating grants as a way of giving nonprofit leaders, especially of “high-performing” organizations, the license and flexibility to invest in their organizations in ways that program-specific grants don’t do.
  • For some foundations, such as smaller family foundations that tend to make multiple grants to a limited cohort of grantees over many years, we heard offering dedicated capacity-building grants and general operating support together “just makes sense.” One grantmaking method focuses the grantees on specific strategies while the other gives the grantees the latitude to invest as they wish to meet their needs.
  • For some funders who offer unrestricted support, embedding discussions on organizational capacity within grantmaking due diligence is an important part of ensuring that those funds contribute to capacity improvements.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Supporting Grantee Capacity.