Capacity Building

The San Antonio Area Foundation engages in several strategic partnerships and initiatives intended to build community capacity by responding to community needs, help organizations grow and advance equity.

Helping Organizations Grow and Advance Equity

The Area Foundation provides professional development opportunities, capacity building grants, and financial support for capacity building initiatives to help organizations build and strengthen their systems, internal structures, skills and resources they need to effectively serve their communities. Feedback provided by the nonprofit sector has informed our decision making on various capacity building projects. As part of these efforts, we are focused on helping small and grassroots nonprofits build future sustainability.

Current or Recent Capacity Building Initiatives

Early-Stage Capacity Building

In partnership with the H. E. Butt Foundation, this project provides early-stage capacity building supports to a cohort of small to mid-sized nonprofit organizations in San Antonio that align with our Foundations’ mission and focus in contributing to the wellbeing of children, youth, and families in our community. Recognizing that many small and mid-size nonprofit organizations in our community serve our most under-invested and marginalized communities with minimal access to capacity building resources, this project is designed to engage and equip organizations with skills and knowledge to prepare for future growth. 

The year-long project provides six (6) participating nonprofits with the opportunity to complete the iCAT Nonprofit Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool, reflect on organizational strength and identify critical capacity needs, receive up to 3 hours of technical assistance and coaching support, and receive grant funding to help grow organizational capacity. 

  • American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions
  • Black Outside
  • Boy with a Ball San Antonio
  • Classical Music Institute 
  • Ella Austin Community Center
  • Girls on the Run Bexar County 
  • Latched Support
  • SA Heals
  • San Anto Cultural Arts Inc.
  • San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum 
  • Students of Service
  • URBAN-15 Group 
nonprofit class, nonprofit training

Capacity Building Grants

The Area Foundation provides capacity building grants to organizations that would benefit from a guided process to help build efficiencies and sustainability in the organization’s processes, administration, and operations. Through this process, we proactively target organizations to explore their readiness to engage in improving their organizational effectiveness. Once selected, organizations can assess their organizational capacity through the Impact Capacity Assessment Tool (iCAT), a tool designed to help nonprofits understand their current capacity strengths and challenges. Where possible, we provide individual coaching to help nonprofits interpret their capacity assessment scores and opportunities for peer learning.

Grants typically range between $10,000 and $25,000 and may be paired with a general operating service grant to support capacity building efforts. Our reason for doing so is that many small nonprofits will allocate grant funds to meet current programmatic needs rather than investing in long-term capacity activities that will strengthen their infrastructure and future sustainability. By pairing a general operating service grant with a capacity building grant, we remove the barrier and temptation to address current needs rather than focus on internal improvements.

The Area Foundation has engaged in a partnership with the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District to work with a cohort of organizations interested in building or strengthening their community health work. With a focus on mobilizing community health workers to build community resiliency and reduce health disparities magnified by COVID-19, this grant process supports 11 nonprofits, that are mostly grassroots, in starting or building a foundation for future sustainability.

The two-year project includes the combination of comprehensive services including the opportunity to take the iCAT, individual coaching and guidance on the iCAT results, peer learning opportunities and technical assistance focused on building a program evaluation model. The cohort launched in September 2022 and will conclude in August 2024.

Through a partnership with UP Partnership and support from Blue Meridian Partners, a pioneering philanthropic model for funding scalable solutions that alleviate poverty, the Area Foundation is building the capacity with a cohort of nonprofits focused on increasing economic mobility. Designed to complement the work of San Antonio’s voter approved Ready to Work program, this two-year project focuses on building capacity support for organizations focused on one or more of the following service categories: Advocacy, Paid work experience, Connecting high school students to workforce opportunities, Connecting employers to job skills training programs, and Remediation and wrap around support. 

Catchafire Skills-Based Volunteering

COVID-19 increased the need for virtual volunteers. The loss of staff and skills due to budget cuts amplified the need for specialized skills to build organizational infrastructure. In response to this community issue, Social Venture Partners San Antonio (SVPSA) formed a team of San Antonio funders to give over 100 local nonprofits access to Catchafire, a virtual volunteer platform that connects nonprofits with skills-based volunteers. Through this initiative nonprofits have connected with virtual volunteers skilled in various categories including: business strategy, data and analytics, design and media, finance, HR, program management, marketing, technology, COVID-19 essential, and advocacy. Collectively, over 6,000 volunteer hours of pro bono engagements have been spent on nonprofits using Catchafire, totaling over $1.2 million in budget savings. We are a proud partner in this work. 

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