Key Points

Nonprofits frequently find it challenging to find providers best suited to meet their capacity-building needs. This can be especially true when looking for providers to strengthen racial equity capacity. Many nonprofits lack the time, networks, or expertise to identify what’s available and vet various options for cost, relevance, and quality.

When the Kresge Foundation designed a program to build leadership capacity through a racial equity lens among its grantees, it wanted to strengthen the marketplace of offerings as well. Kresge’s Fostering Urban Equitable Leadership program sought to build leadership capacity and add value for grantees by offering a curated menu of services from a range of providers. The program also has an explicit goal of helping strengthen participating service providers’ own capacity, which it does by providing grant support and opportunities for peer learning and collaboration.

This article explores why more foundations should invest in the capacity of nonprofit capacity builders. It draws on reflections and lessons learned from the program and perspectives from service providers. Foundations have a unique role to play in strengthening the ecosystem of capacitybuilding service providers. The article offers recommendations for how to do so in ways that have the potential to stimulate new thinking about collaborative opportunities, reduce overlap in services, and expand the quality of offerings throughout the field.

Open Access