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Supporting not for profits to build capacity for impact


23 July 2020 at 7:10 am
Andrew Cairns
Community Sector Banking is giving $300,000 to not for profits to use for capacity building plus in-kind strategic impact grants, writes CEO Andrew Cairns, who argues organisations can have even greater impact when they build capacity.


Andrew Cairns | 23 July 2020 at 7:10 am


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Supporting not for profits to build capacity for impact
23 July 2020 at 7:10 am

Community Sector Banking is giving $300,000 to not for profits to use for capacity building plus in-kind strategic impact grants, writes CEO Andrew Cairns, who argues organisations can have even greater impact when they build capacity.

Not-for-profit organisations are always working to support others. Their purpose is to give and to provide services to the community. Given the work they do, it’s understandable that any money donated or earned goes back into the organisation to further their cause and support both individuals and communities. 

While not for profits are driven by positive outcomes, the need to run a successful and sustainable organisation is similar to other businesses. Like for-profit businesses, they also need to succeed and be sustainable in order to function and grow. 

Successful organisations are those that are equally supported from the inside and outside. It is often the organisations who focus on doing so much for so many that suffer from a lack of support structures to keep them functioning well. 

Often lacking the capacity or time to support themselves, there is a real need for not-for-profit organisations to build capacity from within so they can continue to grow, further their reach and support the communities they serve. 

When organisations build capacity, they accelerate growth, strengthen their support services and are able to have even greater impact in society. Without this investment internally, they face the challenges of limited program growth, limited resources, and staff experiencing burn-out by wearing too many hats. 

There’s a reason why organisations need to be strong from within in order to function with strength and purpose in serving others. It’s a concept that applies to everything in life – you must look after yourself before you can look after others. When organisations have a strong core, they can adequately navigate the challenges that come from supporting others in their time of need. If the organisation is struggling on the inside, it will fall short and face ongoing issues in carrying out its mission to help others. It will not grow, flourish or succeed. 

Many grant programs are dedicated to addressing social issues or are tied to specific programs, leaving not for profits with little room to focus on building more sustainable organisations. 

Through our annual Social Investment Grants Program, we’ve come up with a unique opportunity for not for profits to gain support for capacity building for impact within their organisations. Each year, organisations can apply for funding. In 2020, we are giving a total of $300,000 in grants to not for profits to use specifically for capacity building for impact. 

Although funding and grants can help support capacity building, the reality is that many organisations don’t have access to additional funds. In-kind support can be just as valuable to not-for-profit organisations as monetary support. In addition to the monetary grants, we are this year launching in-kind strategic impact grants, with five 20-hour grants that provide expert services and support to not-for-profit organisations to improve their projects

We hope to reward organisations looking to invest in support for their long-term strategy, the aim and purpose of their organisation and investment that leads to positive and impactful change for communities and those they support. This infrastructure may mean providing supplemental skills training to staff, undertaking volunteer recruitment or technology upgrades to aging computers or software. 

Not only must we support not-for-profit organisations in their goals and purpose, we must also support them in allocating time, resources and funds to maintain their structures from within so that they can continue the great work they do in supporting others. 

By focusing grant programs on building the capacity of our not for profits, these organisations will be in a stronger position to support local communities and address the pressing issues of our time.


Andrew Cairns  |  @ProBonoNews

Andrew Cairns is the CEO of Community Sector Banking.

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