Nonprofit leaders and sector advocates have long called on funders to prioritize strengthening nonprofit organizations. Our research here at CEP has found that nonprofit leaders not only want help from their funders to strengthen their organizations, but they go on to say that general operating support (GOS) grants have the most impact on strengthening their organizations, followed by capacity building/organizational effectiveness grants.[1]

Yet these grant types are more the exception than the norm. CEP’s Grantee Perception Report (GPR) dataset, specifically data which covers the last 10 years before the COVID-19 pandemic, confirms that less than one-quarter of grants – 21 percent – were GOS. Even fewer grants – 12 percent – were multiyear GOS.[2] Similarly, prior to the pandemic, only 30 percent of nonprofit leaders reported receiving any capacity building support in their most recent fiscal year.

And while the topics of capacity building and general operating support have been the subject of many articles and discussions, there is limited field-wide data about the practice and value of funders providing grantees simultaneously with both GOS and capacity building grants.

For these reasons, as part of a broader research study exploring the provision of multiyear GOS, we sought to hear from foundation and nonprofit leaders about the combination of GOS and capacity building grants. (For information on the methodology for this study, see Appendix B of New Attitudes, Old Practices: The Provision of Multiyear General Operating Support.)

Here’s what we learned:

Almost 60 percent of foundation CEOs surveyed said that their foundations provide some grantees with a combination of GOS and capacity building support, but most provide this combination to very few grantees (Figure 1).[3] Unsurprisingly, the combined provision of multiyear GOS together with capacity building supports is even less common; only one-quarter of nonprofit leaders report having ever received capacity building support specifically as a complement to a multiyear GOS grant.

Read the full article about strengthening nonprofits by Naomi Orensten and Kate Gehling at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.