Capacity Building 9.0: Fund people to do stuff, get out of their way


gulls-343235_960_720Some people think capacity building is boring. Well, I think it’s sexy, and I’ve spent many hours writing romantic poems about it: “Can Love’s arrows seek truest rapture/Without the quiver of Infrastructure?/Can e’er Equity take flight and sing/Save with steadfast Capacity ‘neath her wings?” (What, like your hobbies are SOOO much more interesting).

Since most of my work is now focused on building capacity of communities-of-color-led nonprofits, I’m glad that there seems to be a new resurgence of people talking about capacity building. Here’s a great paper from Grantcraft with cool concrete recommendations for funders  including a brief discussion on the importance of general operating funds for capacity building. And here’s one from the TCC Group on what they call “Capacity Building 3.0.” According to this briefing paper, Capacity Building 1.0 is about individuals, Capacity Building 2.0 is about nonprofit institutions, and 3.0 is about the entire nonprofit ecosystem, which includes funders, businesses, even the government.

These white papers are all written by very intelligent people who have thought long and hard about the critical role that capacity building plays in our ability to do our work. After reading through them and other articles on the topic, I want to offer some reflections and recommendations.

First, when people talk about capacity building, it ironically seems to be about larger organizations that have some of what one of my colleagues calls “Prerequisite Capacity,” that is, a certain level of existing capacity without which no further capacity can be built. Kind of like when you’re in high school or college, and you cannot take a class until you have some prerequisite classes under your belt. Many white papers addressing capacity building seem to be targeted toward larger orgs that already have some basic level of infrastructure, and need support to further develop. However, a significant portion of our sector comprises smaller, more grassroot organizations that are only starting to develop their infrastructure. Capacity Building needs to differentiate between these levels, because the strategies needed for each are completely different. I would say that not enough focus is given to strategies to help organizations develop Prerequisite Capacity. Instead, we get wall-pounding frustration in the form of “We won’t help you develop your capacity until you develop some capacity.” There needs to be more funding for Prerequisite Capacity.

Second, I’m glad the role of diversity, equity, and inclusion in capacity building is starting to be recognized and talked about. However, there is still a long way to go. Most communities-of-color-led nonprofits do not fall into the same path/organization-cycle/strategy as more mainstream organizations. Current definitions may not apply to them, and the entire paradigm around building their capacity needs to shift, as I’ve written about in “Capacity Building for communities of color: The paradigm must shift.” Applying mainstream capacity building principles to nonprofits of color is like forcing a man to fish when he’s a skilled farmer standing on fertile soil.

Third, I am astounded by our sector’s ability to overthink and overcomplicate things yodawhile ignoring the obvious. We keep thinking of new terminologies and concepts, which gives us the illusion that we’re actually making progress. Why stop at Capacity 3.0? Capacity 4.0 is about increasing organizations’ ability to centralize back-office services and shared physical space. Capacity 5.0 is about networked nonprofit synergy for collective advocacy. Capacity 6.0: Harvesting Midi-chlorians and using The Force to improve infrastructure.

This approach can be dangerous, because we get distracted and do not pay sufficient attention to the critical factors that are at the heart of the issue (See “The frustration with innovation: Bright Shiny Object Syndrome and its effects on the nonprofit sector.”)

But things happen in cycles. So with that in mind, I’d like to propose we skip the next several iterations of Capacity Building and get back to basic with Capacity 9.0: Fund People To Do Stuff And Get the Hell Out Of Their Way, or FPTDSAGTHOOTW for short.

Fund People To Do Stuff

For a sector that relies so heavily on people, it is incredible how much reluctance, sometimes even disdain, there is in supporting nonprofit staff. A funder of a particularly large grant that I’m trying to get, for example, made it amply clear that no more than 10% of their funds are to be used for staff to administer the project; and in fact, they also don’t want to pay for the living stipends for program participants either. I’ve had corporations tell me to my face that they’ll support any program expenses except staffing. And one foundation who just won’t fund existing staff; yup, new staff is fine, because existing staff should have already found a way to sustain themselves, those lazy bums.

For capacity building, and in general, we seem to forget that it is people who do stuff, not tiny elusive nonprofit elves who appear each night after we leave our cubicles. For some reason, toolkits, workshops, peer circles, seminars, conferences, webinars, summits, and white papers are far sexier to fund than supporting the people who use the toolkits, attend the workshops and seminar and conferences and summits, read the white papers, implement strategies, etc. So many capacity building efforts fail because we do not invest enough in people to carry out these efforts. And any effort to build the capacity of communities of color that does not take staffing into account will fail completely. Many of these orgs do amazing work but don’t have a single full-time staff, so funding anything without strategically funding staffing first will be ineffective.   

An analogy that I love is from Blue Avocado’s editor, Jan Masaoka: We keep funding hammers fishand other tools, and don’t spend nearly enough on carpenters, the people who will actually be using these tools. This is why endless toolkits, white papers, and strategic plans sit on some resource page of a website gathering dust.

We cannot teach someone to fish if there is no one there to be taught. We can fund an organization to attend workshops on fundraising and hire a consultant to create a development plan, but how will that work if an organization does not have dedicated fundraising staff? We can talk about building networks that include funders and businesses and government working together as the next evolution of capacity building, but how will that work if organizations don’t have staff to send to develop these partnerships? We can fund communities-of-color-led nonprofits to get together to collectively develop an advocacy strategy, but how will that work if after this effort is done they still don’t have staffing capacity to implement the plan?

Nonprofit professionals are the heart of the work. No capacity building strategy will work without this most basic element. Stop funding toolkits that no one will use!

“If we had more carpenters,” says Jan Masaoka, “they would buy more hammers; they’d drive up demand. A carpenter-driven market would drive quality, usefulness and price in hammers. If only foundations would fund fewer new hammer factories, and instead fund a lot more carpenters, we might actually see more houses built.” We must increase our investment in people.

Again, I’d like to point out the importance of staff when it comes to communities-of-color-led organizations. Capacity building has not worked for these orgs, who provide critical services. In Seattle, many have been around for years, even decades, and still struggle to grow because historically, funding for capacity building has been going to trainings and workshops and consultants, without consideration of who will implement stuff. This is why my organization, Rainier Valley Corps, is focused on bringing carpenters of color into the field; capacity building for communities of color will not work until we have enough nonprofit professionals of color at the right places and we support the ones who exist.

Get Out of People’s Way

dilbert 2Capacity cannot just be about efforts to improve infrastructure, but also the efforts to remove barriers that are actively preventing capacity from developing. Many of these barriers, frankly, are created by funders, and because of power dynamics, we just put up with them.

I mentioned in an earlier post on sustainability that funders’ asking nonprofits how we will be sustainable is like setting a fire and asking nonprofits how we will put it out. (See “The sustainability question, why it is so annoying.”) Capacity building is the same way. Funders are trying to enhance organizations’ capacity while simultaneously perpetuating damaging practices that prevent capacity from developing. Let’s make grantees spend 15 hours on a grant proposal budget detailing every pencil to be bought; and then let’s fund some workshops on time management for nonprofit leaders. Let’s give small restrictive one-year grants that people cry into their pillow each night about, and then let’s fund a seminar on self-care. Let’s not fund existing staff, but do pay for consultants to talk about staff retention.

The examples are endless and exhausting. I read in one of the white papers mentioned above about a foundation who funded a peer learning effort around effective ED transition since so many of its grantees were experiencing leadership changes. That’s great, but how about figuring out why the EDs are leaving in droves, and finding a way to stem the tide?

Capacity is actively prevented by restricted funds, pressure on nonprofits to keep overhead low, single-year one-time grants, unnecessary and burdensome reporting requirements, and the endless and annoying focus on “sustainability.” (See “Can we all just admit there is no such thing as nonprofit sustainability?”) We need to remove these barriers if we want to create an environment where organizations can thrive.


We can come up with fancy new terms and concept for capacity building, but it comes down to two elements: Supporting the right people so they are consistently there doing stuff, and then removing barriers that are preventing them from doing stuff and making them want to run screaming from the sector. THEN fund toolkits and workshops and peer learning circles and talk about ecosystems and partnerships, etc. With that in mind, here are 9 recommendations from Capacity Building 9.0:

  • Provide multiyear General Operating funds
  • Create programs that get students to think about nonprofit work as a viable career choice
  • Support pipeline programs that get professionals to enter the field
  • Advocate for increased salaries in general for professionals in the sector
  • Fund strategies to decrease burnout, such as sabbaticals for leaders, including program, operation, and fundraising staff
  • Streamline burdensome application and reporting processes
  • Pay for both new and EXISTING staffing positions
  • Support strategies that help develop prerequisite capacity (hint: It’s about staffing)
  • Provide multiyear General Operating funds

What are your thoughts?

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  • Bharati Ramachandran

    This post hit so many chords. Thank you 🙂 An additional point for funders: when funding staff, pay fair market rates – and pay for the whole person, not just for the use of an arm and a brain for 5 days a month (so that non-profits don’t have to do complicated math to squeeze out fractions of one person’s salary from 16 different projects).

    • Thanks, Bharati, I agree. A while ago I was talking to the fundraising team about creating a “menu” for donors to choose from. We actually said, “For $1,000, you can buy one arm of a future nonprofit leader that we are training…” It was hilarious, and sad.

  • Betsy Bowman Burtis

    Since any new release doesn’t get the kinks out on the first try, I’m going to suggest Capacity Building 9.1: convincing funders to do this! Great article highlighting the constant struggle. From your lips to the funding gods’ ears.

    • Thanks, Betsy! 9.2 is about convincing the trustees of foundations, the elusive figures that we only hear about but never see or get to talk to.

  • Devra Thomas

    I am desperate for a sabbatical. This post hit a little closer to home, and not in a funny way like usual.

    • Sorry, Devra! I think there are funders out there who do fund sabbaticals. Just wondering where they are…

  • Denisa Casement CFRE

    Every time I look at a grant application from a big foundation I get a vision of a beautiful medical centre full of state of the art equipment with not a qualified human in sight to actually deliver medical care. This is the zombie apocalypse created by funders. Thanks for your spot on analysis!

    • lol. That’s the image I get when talking to the funder above, who refuses to pay more than 10% for staff

  • Marjorie Williams

    You should really see if you can get a funder to fund a button on your site that will anonymously forward this to funders. It should be on every single one of your blog posts.

    • Lol! Thanks, Marjorie! That would be awesome!

  • Soudary Kittivong-Greenbaum

    Thank you! So many “aha” moments here for both NPOs and funders. Another key solution I think that’s tied to capacity building is helping smaller nonprofits frame their work towards non-foundation audiences like individual donors and businesses/corporate funders. Foundation funding will only get us so far, right?

    • verucaamish

      Have you seen any examples of this getting traction. The Southeast Asian American community is notoriously bad at actually funding 501c3’s that serve the community. SEA’s can raise hundred of thousands of dollars for a temple but feel like the nonprofits should be giving THEM money.

      • Soudary, foundation funding is especially critical for small, grassroot, and/or communities-of-color-led nonprofits. The funding dynamics in communities of color are very interesting and do not follow the same patterns. As verucaamish says, many individual donors from these communities tend to gravitate toward religious institutions to give to and do not understand why they should give to nonprofits. Education is one part of the solution, but a more systemic look is necessary.

        • Soudary Kittivong-Greenbaum

          Vu, I totally agree with you about it needing to be more systemic. Getting funders to shift how they give and and to whom and exceptions for the return on that investment would be huge. But that’s within the philanthropy world.. I just think smaller orgs, orgs working in communities of color, and yes, even SE Asian orgs trying to just “make it” can borrow from larger org fundraising frameworks.. almost all of whom have some line of unrestricted funding or packaging of the work that goes beyond “fund X or Y programs..”

      • Soudary Kittivong-Greenbaum

        Giving to the temple and other types of giving, like helping out for funerals and other community events, I agree, folks will hand over cash.. Because they were asked. And asked by someone they know and trust. And because it would look bad if they don’t give, honestly. I think we can build upon this “transactional” giving. I don’t think we should give up on our community just yet when it comes to individual giving. The other part is framing the work our small orgs do. Often times it’s too focused on one program, and numbers (what foundation funders have prescribed) – and not enough stories and illustrations of impact which would appeal more to individual and business audiences.

  • Ashley Fontaine

    My gut reaction: PREACH!

    My more thoughtful thoughts: how can we stop preaching to the choir?

    Most key people in our organization understand that staff is crucial to what we do. Most nonprofit leaders who read this probably connect with everything you’ve said. But how does that message get translated to donors and everyone else who funds? The recommendations require that people with funds have agreed to stand on the “invest in people” page with you, but I don’t think we’re there yet. How can we get them over here on 9.0?

    • I know, Ashley. But, luckily, I do hear from funders once in a while who appreciate the feedback. And some who need us to give more feedback so that they can take it back to their foundations. We need to have better communication with funding partners.

  • The people power is so important, and I appreciate how you hit that at the end of this post. Shiny tools and white papers have no power or influence without the people behind them. Here’s something else we need to talk about. How are we going to reasonably measure and report our results with the newfound freedom in your recommendations? Reporting can be burdensome, as you say. How do we make it less burdensome, while still telling the facts and the stories of progress made and lives changed? This is a journey I’m on right now. : )

    • Sheena, this is another topic that I’m thinking about. How to measure progress effectively.

    • verucaamish

      This is something that funders can actually give as a value added to their grantees – an evaluator. When I was managing a Training and Technical Assistance project, I pulled over and realized that my best role was to actually capture the stories of how these programs are working. Noone has to time to do that in underresourced organizations. I created a rubric with another consultant to show how capacity had been built in different program areas – education, advocacy, and internal capacity. Rather than having the organizations complete the rubric themselves, I did it for them and had them review it. From their answers I wrote case studies on promising practices coming from their project. I just handed the whole shebang over to them and, as a happy consequence, with an outside consultant measuring their growth and effectiveness, they had some hard paperwork to share with funders and get MORE funding for the programs. Three of the five organizations got six figure state grants for their work. Again, none has the capacity internally to do that level of evaluation when it comes to small nonprofits so why not pay for someone to do it for them? HUGE DIVIDENDS. Sorry Vu for jumping all over this thread.

      • Veruca, I love this idea. If you’re funding a program, fund the evaluation and find what’s working well and not working well.

      • No need to apologize, veruca. You are always spot on. Yes, fund an evaluator to do evaluation, not just the evaluation framework to be implemented by resource-strapped NPOs!

      • ohsoc3

        It’s catalytic for many folks in the organization when the evaluation piece is both relevant and funded. I see it as funding a translator. Here’s how the NGO talks about the work and here’s how we need to hear it/see it. We need more of this.

  • Susan Linn

    Sadly I am about to reluctantly leave a job for reasons that are all captured in your recommendations. I still laughed, but I’m with Devra: today’s laugh was more of a strong sigh.

    • Susan, I’m sorry. Stay in the field. Otherwise, we lose another unicorn…

  • Erin

    Right on so many fronts. And another thing that is driving me crazy lately are a bunch of new funder-initiated programs, where they decide to work on an issue with new messaging frames of their making, with the intention to “scale up” results. They don’t seem to understand that a) one scaled up solution often won’t work because the same strategies just don’t work for every community – this leads to less diverse programs which only engage certain constituencies, and b) they could and SHOULD instead be giving those funds to the organizations who are already working on those issues instead of undermining existing work by deciding they can do something better (and since they don’t have to fundraise, they have more time to do it). Thanks for another great post, Vu.

    • Thanks, Erin. Those two points you bring up are important and deserve their own blog posts.

  • Rusty M. Stahl

    Fund People to Do Stuff. Agreed! I hope you’ll check out (Talent Philanthropy Project) and feel free to refer your readers to it as a resource in the future – we are producing practical resources to help nonprofits raise those needed “talent investment” dollars, and to help funders see why and how they should proactively do “talent-focused grantmaking”. (Yes, I know, more jargon – but there’s no good existing language in the field for this stuff – feel free to give me better words!).

    Love this post and the comments (“the zombie apocalypse created by funders”; “pay for the whole person, not just for the use of an arm and a brain for 5 days a month” — poignant and deeply sad but true commentary). Funding nonprofit people goes deeper than any other type of capacity building. I think it actually transcends capacity building (maybe using The Force?) – whether a funder supports capacity-building, only projects/programs or general operating support, they can all do a lot more to fund the people within each of those approaches.

    • Thank you, Rusty. Fund the people!

  • Mat Despard

    A lot of capacity-building seems to be directly related to meeting funder needs, e.g., managing restricted funding, and indirectly related to the consequences of restricted funding, e.g., fundraising.

    • verucaamish

      What are some upstream approaches to addressing this issue? Do we need to do education with DONOR and FOUNDATION BOARD MEMBERS? I know a lot of Program Officers at foundations and they get it but have their hands tied in exactly the way you described.

      • I’ve been thinking about this too. How to reach the trustees of these foundations. I do know many great program officers whose hands are tied.

  • Rachel Brookhart


    • Thanks, Rachel, for spreading the word.

  • verucaamish

    I’ve worked on several capacity building projects and talked with several nonprofit leaders of AAPI organizations. When it came to real talk, they said what would help them go turbo was to fund program assistants. If each of them had $50K to get a program assistant, they had SOOO MANY PLANS they could execute but didn’t have the bandwidth for.

    • verucaamish, this is exactly why we started Rainier Valley Corps nine months ago. Its main purpose is to provide a full-time staff into these ethnic nonprofits. We created the program after asking all these nonprofits what they needed to succeed. They ALL said staffing.

    • ohsoc3

      Totally. I think this is true for many organizations. There is a relatively standard set of things that need to happen, right? Relationship building, visioning, planning, execution, transactional work, etc. We often expect a manager or director to handle all those areas alone – or, better yet, ask volunteer or “interns” to take on pieces. When I’ve worked on teams that have an assistant or assistants, the difference has been remarkable. I think this goes to Vu’s point around having the basic infrastructure and capacity in place. We need some baseline support.

  • corbin1994

    I would add that limiting sabbaticals and professional pay to ‘leaders’ is like funding a really well dressed head (insert fashion preference here,) and dressing the body in white socks and crocs, with frayed cargo pants and an 80’s disco shirt.
    Leaders lead, and help make the work possible, but front line staff deliver the services and are vastly more underpaid. Where a leader is making $70 to $90K or more, and front line staff are making $31K and actually listening directly to the trauma, or $48,000 to teach the kids no school system can handle, how can we say that we should focus on the burn out of leaders?
    Capacity building has to build the entire organization, and everyone should be eligible for a sabbatical, not to mention getting to go to a conference once in a while.

    • Thanks, Corbin. That is a very good point about the importance of supporting all staff. My definition of “leaders” is broad, but I added clarification to the post based on your feedback.

    • ohsoc3

      This is so important. Thank you for posting it. When I was an ED, I had access to peer circles, leadership programs, retreats, etc. that I do not have now that I’ve chosen not to be an ED. And my peers at the other levels of the organization need all of these things, sometimes more than I did. And it’s not just about building a leadership pipeline as some grants/programs stress that do work with non ED staff, but its about doing good work in relationship with the field, with training, and with investment in the mental health of the team. Our social movements are stronger when they are packed with rested, trained, supported folks with a healthy social fabric to support them. Why do we leave them behind sometimes?

  • Kenneth Foster

    Vu I can’t believe how every Monday I read your posts and say yes, yes, yes he is so RIGHT! Thank you for speaking truth to power (as it were). This one is so right on! We SAY invest in our people but we wind up exploiting labor while the money goes to “stuff” because it “has to” and we can always get more fro less from people. While the funders certainly deserve some blame for this, we are often our own worst enemies. How often I have heard nonprofit leaders and employees say, well it’s nonprofit work we shouldn’t expect to get paid well, get benefits, have a sabbatical, take time off, etc. Why not??

  • Kebo Drew

    Funny thing, at QWOCMAP we have advocated, in public mind you, to foundations like Hewlett, our idea that we need 2 funding streams. 1 for community-based people of color organizations (run by, for and about the communities they serve) who are great at things like engagement, relevance and outreach, equity, inclusion and diversity, but have different needs in terms of capacity. and 1 for those bigger organizations who are increasingly finding themselves not relevant and unable to deal with “changing demographics,” which is really just dealing with the fact the people of color communities want/need different things. we’ve advocated this idea because it is often, as one Irvine foundation officer noted, the smaller organizations that do the “R&D” and develop the best practices, and could be considered subject matter experts, but larger organizations with “prerequisite capacity” that get funded to that very work. of course, this only exacerbates power imbalances and resource inequality already prevalent with community-based people of color organizations.

  • Sammy

    Woah. This post really hits home for me at the right time. We
    just had a site visit with a super nice program officer for a capacity-building/organizational
    development grant, who said that that we have potential, but their average
    grant is half of the amount we asked for. Looks like Phase 1 can be funded, but
    we’ll have to search elsewhere for Phase 2, not to mention that funding for implementation
    could not be included in the proposal. This
    is coming from a great organization focused on racial equity and community
    building, but unfortunately is fixed on metrics and prerequisite capacity, as
    you mentioned. As a newbie to the sector (and “the real world” of the
    workplace), I’m starting to get a feel for the obstacles embedded within the
    system, besides the hard work and problem solving done on the day-to-day.
    However, it’s encouraging knowing that I’m not alone and that there are many smart,
    resourceful people who can articulate these issues and fighting for
    improvements in the sector. So thanks, Vu, for these funny and well-written

    YESSSS more Gen Op
    funds please!!!!

    • Thanks, Sammy, and welcome to the field! Seriously, there are a lot of challenges here, but I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else. Except maybe travel writing…

  • Pamela White

    Vu – Reading your Monday morning emails is among my best practices for starting the week. RE: The Sustainability Question. I have a “fantasy” answer to that question, which (of course) I have never and will never use. I do say it out loud sometimes before I write an answer that is much more non-profit funder acceptable and (in all honesty – more genuine.) It is: “Well what do you think I am going to do? I am going to write another of these stupid grants after talking to some irritatingly judgmental program officer who works for a self-righteous organization where I spin the program as new and juggle the program budget to look deserving…but not too needy. Any other questions?” Then I take a deep breath and write the genuine response to those (actually) very nice program officers who work for an organization that is trying to do good things. Sigh.

    • Thanks, Pamela. ha ha, yes, that’s what many of us are thinking. I also like what my friend says, “We will increase the amount of praying we do. And also buy more lottery tickets.”

      • Pamela White

        ahh, I had not thought of playing the lottery…though I do often pray. 🙂 Have a great week!

  • Britt

    Vu, this is awesome. I wish my recent post on the same idea was even half this spot on!

    You should come up and check out iLEAP sometime. You’re always welcome here.


    • Thanks, Britt. I’m glad programs like iLEAP exist.

  • Megan

    Just had part of this discussion this morning. April is when my direct line staff start to tell me they are leaving because they are generally part-time and low paid and we have minimal benefits, but this is all the grants will support and if we do by the grace of the almighty get a big grant it is usually just for one year and nothing to sustain an increase in wages or hours over time. Who can we talk to about this?! In the after school world there is a huge push for “quality programming” and the quality hinges on the person in the room, but no one wants to pay to keep that high quality person in the room! ugh and sigh.

    • I know, Megan. Ugh and sigh indeed. The sector needs to invest in its most valuable resource: the unicorns doing the work.

  • ohsoc3

    Thank you for this. In my most recent Development Director position, I handled grants (foundation, corporate, local, and state), individual giving, fundraising planning, pieces of program development, and a major portion of PR. Granted, this was some poor design overall, but having to spend between 15 and 40 (yeah) hours on a proposal usually meant the other funding streams significantly slowed or didn’t get properly supported. I’m not thinking the foundations could have solved our challenge alone, but if all my proposals took half as long, some of these streams would be flowing much better.

    On the program side, I often helped program team members flesh out extensive logic models and goal sets that pushed their thinking to be more what the funder wants to hear than what was really happening on the ground. So there I am spending hours translating funder speak to someone who could be leading impact projects so funders can support a project we all have less time to implement or find other support for.

    My most recent proposal, for city funds, had 55 pages in their RFP, multiple mandatory meetings, and a blood draw every third Monday whose date ended in an odd number but only in months where a crescent moon is noted on the calendar on page 37 of the RFP. If my organization had folks who must keep regular hours, who have other urgent duties in the organization, etc. I don’t think we could have applied.

    I also wonder about the organizations that don’t have folks with my level of experience dancing the RFP dance. What about those who do great work, but for whom English is a challenging language and grantspeak is even more so?

    I think we have to find more ways to break down the walls of us and them and to simplify these things. I always say that grantwriters and ED’s should have the opportunity to run their own foundations at some point. I wonder what might shift?


  • Ari Christopher

    Reading your blog is one of the highlights of my work day. I get the opportunity to laugh and engage at the same time. Keep up the great work!

    Arianna Christopher
    Public Relations Intern, GuideStar USA, Inc.

  • Andrew Mack

    Exactly. My book has the same take-home message for international conservation organizations working overseas. We don’t give money to a protected species, to a piece of earth, to a policy paper, to a research finding… we give it to people. A few modestly supported well-trained local conservationists will accomplish much more than the multi-million dollar international organizations ever will. I’ve been raising a lot of the same points in my writing and lectures. So glad to see it succinctly put here!

  • Stacy Ashton

    Can it be a rule that if you don’t fund administration or staff time, you can’t ask for any documentation requiring staff time or administration. No Financial Statements, no Society Filings, no Strategic Planning documents. If you don’t value them enough to contribute to funding them, why do you value them enough to require them with a grant application?