Increasing capacity in our nonprofits

A buzzword in non-profit management is “capacity.”  Sometimes “capacity” means talent.  Sometimes it means budget or income.  Other times it means training, education, or physical size, as in enough office space, computers, or parking.


For example, does your board have the capacity to make the right governance decisions?  Does your staff have the capacity to run the daily operations?  Do you have the staff capacity to serve clients, raise funds, and market your organization?  Do you have enough office space, computers, and filing cabinets?  Do you have the right software to make your tasks efficient?


In a nutshell, “does your non-profit have the capacity to deliver the services to serve your clients and meet your mission?”


As we review grant applications and network in the community, we observe the varying levels of capacity of our local non-profits.  Some are much more sophisticated than others; many are young and small but with great potential.  Quite often the topic comes up over lunch or while networking: “I wish we could…”


Additionally, the quality of life in Grundy County is dependent on the capacity of our non-profits and increasing their capacity only increases our quality of life.


In the context of capacity, our definition of “non-profit” is broad – it includes social service agencies, churches, historical societies, performing arts, Chambers, and taxing bodies such as libraries, villages, fire districts, and school districts.  All of these organizations are IRS-recognized non-profits.  Not all are 501c3 “charities,” but they all operate under a non-profit structure.


To help build capacity in our local non-profits, we began a program this summer called “Non-Profit Tools for Success.”  It is a monthly after hours where we schedule a presenter on a topic that is relevant to our non-profit community.  Past topics have been marketing, financials, human resources, and grantwriting.


The gathering is casual and the presenters are friends and colleagues who have expertise in that topic, whether by formal training or through years of experience.  Any non-profit in the region is welcome to attend and it is not limited to staff – board members and volunteers are highly encouraged to attend, too.  The cost is free and food and drink are provided!


We are excited for our November presentation: David Terrill is a colleague and president of the Suburban Chicago Planned Giving Council.  He will be coming to town on Thursday, November 13th, to coach us on planned giving.  He’ll start very basic and wrap up with some more sophisticated tools.  This event is for all knowledge levels and there will be no such thing as a dumb question.


Staff AND board members are highly encouraged to attend!!  Planned giving is a wide topic and every non-profit should understand the basics so that you can have more tools in your quiver when you meet with donors and brainstorm with them about how they can support your organization.


We also invite local professional advisors to attend – attorneys, accountants, and financial planners.  When your clients are ready to be strategic in their charitable giving, we want you at full capacity, too!


The timing of this presentation is purposeful as the season of giving is approaching, plus many donors make majors gifts before year-end for tax purposes.  AND November is National Philanthropy Month!


“Non-Profit Tools for Success” is presented on the first Thursday of the month (November is an exception) and begins at 5:00 pm.  We meet in the conference room of the Grundy County Housing Authority, 1802 N. Division, Door #9.  A schedule of speakers is on our website at  We also post handouts and PowerPoint presentations from previous dates.


Looking forward, our December 4th topic is “non-profit boards.”  We’re still working on the specifics, but please ask your board members to pencil in this date, too.


We plan to post the 2015 schedule of topics soon.  Again, please mark your calendar for the first Thursday of the month at 5:00 pm.  AND we are always looking for topics and speakers so please call or email us with suggestions.  This program is meant to be useful, so please tell us what topics will be helpful to you and your organization!





What:                          Non-Profit Tools for Success

Date:                           Thursday, November 13th

Time:                           5:00-7:00 pm

Topic:                          Planned Giving

Speaker:                      David Terrill of the Suburban Chicago Planned Giving Council

Who is invited:            All area non-profits

Location:                     Grundy County Housing Authority conference room

1802 N. Division, Door #9

RSVP to:                       Community Foundation of Grundy County

815-941-0852 or [email protected]