2022 is the year that America revitalizes its infrastructure and philanthropy has a role to play in this discussion. Nationwide in the philanthropic community, it is rare to find a grantmaker allowing organizations to submit requests for capital expenditure (physical infrastructure) grants. Indeed, I used to work at one of those entities. Program grant applications only, please, no capital requests! Candid data illustrates philanthropic organizations in Connecticut, where our organization is located, spend only 2-5 percent of their giving yearly on nonprofit infrastructure support.

The pandemic, meanwhile, has turned a soul searching, introspective light on the philanthropic sector and its practices. As a sector, we find ourselves at a crossroads with timely questions literally at the front door. So, what about the need for the roof, HVAC system, technology, kitchen and bathroom renovations, medical equipment, and other essentials? These needs have fallen by the wayside, and leave nonprofit organizations in the lurch, scrambling to determine how they will pay for these infrastructure costs. It’s time for philanthropic entities to step up to the plate to provide this funding.

The Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) is one of the few grantmakers Connecticut nonprofit organizations can turn to for capital expenditure grants. We do this because our focus is tax-exempt bond and loan funding for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. We’re facilitating construction, renovations, and capital needs at everything from childcare facilities to hospitals and universities. As a result of this focus, our philanthropic grant program, now celebrating its 20th year, carved out a unique niche in Connecticut philanthropy to provide not only program grants, but capital expenditure grants as well. Our Board and reviewers bring the CHEFA lens to their recommendation and approval process because it aligns with our mission and why we were created by the state in the 1960’s.

Which now brings me to three infrastructure grants CHEFA made prior to the pandemic. These grants — each of which serendipitously ended up empowering the grantees with invaluable capacity when the COVID-19 pandemic struck —serve as excellent examples of the value of investing in nonprofit infrastructure.

Read the full article about capital expenditure grants by Betty Sugerman Weintraub at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.