Who are the Dominant Voices (Champions and Nonbelievers)?

This may be a tougher topic to discuss openly, but certainly one raised consistently. No doubt, the question of “who” dominates on the subject of capacity building has a big impact on a foundation’s capacity to undertake it.

At some foundations, we heard, “Staff are the primary drivers and the struggle is to have boards embrace the value of capacity-building investments.” At other foundations, “CEOs largely set the capacity-building agenda.” In some instances, the drivers may be the strength of the voices or passive resistance among those who are, in essence, against capacity building and think of it as a waste of time. As one interviewee put it, “Some grantmaking staff are mostly interested in organizations delivering on the objectives of their issue-based grantmaking strategies.” In other instances, grantmaking staff or board members may feel it’s not worth it to try to push their foundation to take on capacity building. They may feel their foundation has always done grantmaking a particular way and voicing an opinion that would call for change would be a waste of energy.

Think about who is driving the work at your foundation and how that impacts your foundation’s approach to grantee capacity building. Also consider what voices are lasting versus temporary, and how different voices can be heard and then reconciled to make grantee capacity building more productive.

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.