Increasing capacity in our nonprofits

Morris Daily Herald

October 27, 2014

by Julianne Buck

Executive Director, CFGC


Box 111314A buzzword in nonprofit 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 enough office space, computers and filing cabinets?

In a nutshell, “Does your nonprofit 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 nonprofits. Some are much more sophisticated than others; many are young and small but with great potential. Quite often the topic comes up: “I wish we could….”

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

In the context of capacity, our definition of “nonprofit” 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 nonprofits. Not all are 501(c)(3) charities, but they all operate under a nonprofit structure.

To help build capacity in our local nonprofits, we began a program this summer called “Non-Profit Tools for Success.” It is a monthly after-hours program where we schedule a presenter on a topic that is relevant to our nonprofit 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. Any nonprofit 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 Nov. 13 to coach 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. He will speak from 5 to 7 p.m.

Planned giving is a wide topic and every nonprofit should understand the basics so 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.

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 pm. We meet in the conference room of the Grundy County Housing Authority, 1802 N. Division St., Morris, door 9. A schedule of speakers is on our website at We also post handouts and PowerPoint presentations from previous dates.

Looking forward, our Dec. 4 topic is “nonprofit 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. 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!

For information or to RSVP to Community Foundation of Grundy County, call 815-941-0852 or email [email protected].