Community Foundation Announces $1 Million Grants Program to Increase Capacity of Local Charities

November 08, 2017

The Washington County Community Foundation (WCCF) is pleased to announce the creation of a new grants program from its Community CARE Fund (CCF) to help build the capacity of charitable nonprofits in the area.  Up to $1,000,000 will be issued in CCF capacity building grants during this initiative, which is anticipated to be completed over the next two years.  If the capacity building grants program proves to be successful, another round of grants may be announced in the future.  CCF capacity building grants will normally range from $25,000 to $50,000, and may be paid over a period of years.  Only 501(c)(3) charities which are not classified as private charities under section 509(a) of the tax code, and which provide services in Washington County, are eligible to receive a CCF capacity building grant.

Cumulatively, the WCCF has awarded close to $10,000,000 in grants, with the majority of these grants awarded to support the programs of area charities.  Many effective programs have been supported over the years and the WCCF intends to continue providing grants for program support.  With this initiative the objective is to help strengthen the infrastructure, management and governance of local charities, through grants to support the charity itself. 

“Capacity building is an investment in the effectiveness and future sustainability of a charity,” said Betsie Trew, President & CEO.  “When capacity building is successful, it strengthens a charity’s ability to fulfill its mission over time, and enhances the charity’s ability to have a positive impact on individuals and our community.  We believe that this initiative will be particularly beneficial to the many small charities which operate in Washington County.  Of the approximate 100 charities who participated in our recent day of giving, 40% have annual operating budgets of less than $100,000 and 33% have net assets of less than $100,000.  A capacity building grant could enable these smaller charities to reach the next level of operational, programmatic, financial or organizational maturity.  However, this initiative is not limited to smaller charities.  Qualified charities of any size which are operating in Washington County are eligible to apply.”

Potential capacity building projects include a communications plan to relate more effectively with constituents, a development plan to grow the charity’s donor base, or a volunteer recruitment plan to increase volunteerism.  Capacity building grants may be awarded to assist charities with leadership succession, to update a charity’s technology, to improve how a charity measures its outcomes, or to improve a charity’s accounting procedures.  Any activity that increases the charity’s internal capacity will be considered.

Charities who wish to apply for a CCF capacity building grant are encouraged to attend the Foundation’s CCF Capacity Building Grant Workshop on Wednesday, January 17 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the Southpointe Golf Club.  There is no fee to attend the workshop but charities are required to register through the WCCF’s website at www.wccf.net.

There will be a two-step process for applying for a CCF capacity building grant.  The first step is to submit a letter of inquiry by March 1, 2018 electronically through the WCCF website. The letter should be authorized by the charity’s governing board prior to submission and should include a brief narrative and a cost estimate of the proposed capacity building activity.  Charities may only submit one letter of inquiry during this initiative so charity board and staff members should give some thought to the capacity building activity that will have the greatest impact on the organization in the near term. 

At the beginning of May 2018, a WCCF representative will contact those charities who have been selected to submit a full grant application in 2018.  The full grant application will be due on July 1, 2018.  It is anticipated that the first round of CCF capacity building grants will be announced at the end of September 2018.  The second round of grants through this initiative likely will be announced at the end of September 2019.

A 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, the Washington County Community Foundation began operations in December of 1995 and ended that year with a mere $5,000 in assets.  Today the WCCF manages more than $35,000,000 in assets and is the largest publicly-supported grant-making foundation headquartered in Washington County.  It maintains offices in the historic Samuel T. Brownlee House in Eighty Four, PA.