Nonprofit Capacity Building

In order to do great work, nonprofits need strong leaders, clear plans, efficient systems, and a sustainable revenue stream. This takes investment in staff and time to explore and plan--something for which many nonprofits on limited or restricted budgets have little resources to spare. It’s also often hard to make the case to donors to support this kind of work versus direct services or programming.

In response to this gap in resources to achieve the important backbone strength, the Vermont Community Foundation has created a small fund to help. Through this grant round we hope to strengthen the sector itself while fostering greater understanding for funders and donors about the value of this type of support by showcasing best practices in mergers, strategic planning, and fundraising. The application is designed to be easy to complete and notification is within four weeks.

Grants will be no more than $2,500 each and will support the cost of consultants to facilitate discussions related to strategic planning, development of an organizational fundraising strategy, or orchestrating a merger. We understand that generally this size of grant is not enough to cover the full cost of providing these services and that it is meant to supplement funding.  In the application, we expect the budget to reflect revenue indicating the additional funding necessary to complete the project.  We welcome the use of these funds as challenge grants to secure the additional funds.

This program will fund work that will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of nonprofits in the sector  by: 

  • Supporting and encouraging strategic planning among nonprofit boards, staff, and their constituents to clarify goals and performance measures, or
  • Supporting and encouraging financial sustainability among nonprofits through board and staff development of long-term diversified revenue streams, strong philanthropic support, and donor cultivation, or
  • Enabling organizations to consider a possible merger through facilitated conversations.

This Program Will Not Fund:

  • Anything other than professional consultant costs to facilitate any of the work listed above.
  • Repeat funding of the same organization or initiative.
  • Board recruitment efforts.
  • Capital campaign preparation including feasibility studies.
  • Organizational assessment work prior to strategic planning.
  • Grantwriting consultant fees.
  • Programs with religious instruction.

Who May Apply

Grant applications will be accepted from organizations that are located in or serve the people of Vermont and address the above purpose. Organizations must be tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Nonprofit organizations or community groups who do not have 501(c)(3) status may apply for grant awards if another tax-exempt organization acts as a fiscal sponsor. 

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States Code), sexual orientation, marital or parental status, political affiliation, military service, physical or mental ability be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds made available (meaning any funds having a competitive application process) by the Vermont Community Foundation, and any other program or activity funded in whole or in part with funds appropriated for grants, cooperative agreements, and other assistance administered by the Foundation. 

Grant applicants must employ staff and provide services without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity (as defined in paragraph 249(c)(4) of title 18, United States Code), sexual orientation, marital or parental status, political affiliation, military service, physical or mental ability.

How We Evaluate Your Application

The Vermont Community Foundation will consider the following criteria:

  • Grant would preserve or enhance the ability of the organization to meet its mission.
  • Documented demonstration that staff and board of all interested organizations support this effort.
  • Award would be made to support development of strategies for organizational focus and success, fundraising, or orchestrating a merger. 
  • Project is timely in the evolution of the organization(s).
  • Request demonstrates interest in improved effectiveness of organizations, quality and effectiveness of programming, and better support of the constituencies served by the organization(s).
  • Compatibility with the grant round guidelines.
  • Availability of Foundation funds.

Note: By submitting your application to the Vermont Community Foundation, you give the Foundation permission to share your application with other interested funders (if any), both individuals and foundations.

Grant Size

Up to $2,500.

Deadlines and Notifications

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Notifications will be made within four weeks of application submission. Rolling applications are firm through July 1st.  Please check back in June to confirm deadline structure for the second half of 2017.

Application Process

All applications must be submitted electronically via the Online Grants Manager. Visit our Online Grants Center to learn how to use the Grants Manager, including accessing your existing account or registering for the first time. The electronic application form will be available after logging in to your account.

To help you prepare, please click here to view or download the application questions.