In 2014, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation embarked on the National Character Initiative to support organizations seeking to advance character development among youth. The initiative sought to promote lasting change by focusing on building grantee capacity that was based largely on grantee priorities.
This article highlights key findings from an evaluation of the foundation’s approach to the initiative by elevating the perspectives of grantees, foundation staff, and field experts who served as consultants. It discusses supports the foundation provided to grantees and three key transformational elements in capacity building: proactive and responsive technical assistance, a culture of learning, and opportunities for partnerships.
The evaluation surfaced key lessons for grantmakers looking to embrace a capacity-building orientation and shift the traditional funder–grantee dynamic. Funders should consider the strategies discussed in this article to support long-term growth and sustained practices beyond the life of a grant that, ultimately, lead to improved outcomes for organizations and the people they serve.
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Dymnicki, A., Hooker, A., & Goldberg, R. (2021). How to Encourage Sustainable Change: A Reflection on How Philanthropy Can Partner With Grantees to Build Organizational Capacity. The Foundation Review, 13(2). https://doi.org/10.9707/1944-5660.1567