Here's a Great Capacity Funding Story

In the post below, Donald Summers calls for examples where funders have "made smart, targeted investments in a charity's infrastructure."

I've got one!

A few years back, Demos (the think tank I co-founded) was approached by a small family foundation that loved our work and wanted to help us grow. But in contrast to many of the big funders we dealt with, this family outfit didn't have endless resources to bankroll groups for years on end. It wanted to make a big, short-term, and targeted investment in Demos that could get the organization to the next level. 

The family members were anxious that their funds would be well used, and they pushed us in a friendly way to engage in some planning. That actually led to a full-fledged strategic planning process that took a year. And, in contrast, to many such exercises, this one was a home run that led the organization to fundamentally revise its operating strategy and programs. We jettisoned some work, and doubled down in other areas. 

The general operating support from the foundation gave us breathing room as we turned things upside down. The result was a much stronger, more focused organization that increased its impact and also improved its fundraising as it made a more compelling pitch for its unique value proposition. 

The family foundation didn't renew their big funding after the first several years, but the money they did give Demos, and the way they gave it, made all the difference in the world.