Capacity (Organizational Effectiveness ) Grants 2019 –closed

Programmatic Intent
Capacity/organizational effectiveness grantmaking supports nonprofits in building specific skills, capabilities, and strategies to better execute your work, bringing your nonprofit to the next level of organizational effectiveness.


Available Funding

  • Grant range: $2,500- $15,000
  • A minimum of $300,000 is available for the Capacity/Organizational Effectiveness Grant Program. We anticipate funding the three counties in the following proportion:
    • 60% of funding for Hampden County, with significant proportion of these funds targeted to Springfield
    • 20% of funding for Franklin County
    • 20% of funding for Hampshire County

Note: Geographic determinations are based on the primary office location for the organizations and/or the location of the organization’s activities. 

Applicant Eligibility & Guidelines:

  • If your organization has an outstanding final report from a prior grant from CFWM, it is no longer eligible to apply for this grant cycle. Final reports for prior grants needed to be approved by  a CFWM program officer prior by August 6, 2019.
  • All applicants must schedule a pre-application phone conversation with a Program Officer before consideration for this funding opportunity.  No exceptions will be granted, including organizations with a prior grant history / prior programmatic relationship with CFWM. More information about phone calls under Grant Process section.
  • Funding is only for organizations that will address issues that affect the organization as a whole, rather than a single department or program.
  • Applicants must have 501(c)3 status. Fiscally sponsored organizations are not eligible to apply.
  • Applicants must serve residents of Hampden, Hampshire or Franklin counties of Massachusetts.
  • Applicants must have been in operation under their current 501(c)3 status long enough to provide at least one full year of financial activity and provide the financial documents required by CFWM.

To view overall eligibility guidelines for applicant organizations, please click here.

Funding/Project Criteria:

  • Funding should specifically enhance an organization’s effectiveness by undertaking an activity/activities that advance organizational capacity (proposals seeking to expand a program’s capacity, rather than the entire organization’s capacity, will not be considered).
  • Grant range: Minimum grants are $2,500. A maximum grant will be $15,000.
  • Because our awards are granted in December and are not retroactive, proposed activities need to begin between January and March.
  • Duration of grants: Up to one (1) year from the grant award date.

Funding Preference:

  • Applicants that can demonstrate greater level of readiness, organizational commitment and project planning will be given greater consideration, as appropriate.
  • Applicants that have less access to alternative sources (internal or external) of funding for a project will be prioritized.
  • Applicants with a current (or most recently available) annual operating budget of less than $2 million will be given preference.
  • Applicants located in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties will be given preference.
  • Projects that will have a greater impact on an applicant’s organizational transformation or address core organizational needs will be given greater consideration.

Required Application Content:

  • Applicants must indicate what elements of the CFWM Organizational Effectiveness Framework they will focus on. Funding may be for a single problem or issue or, if multiple issues, these must be identified and there must be a strong and well-articulated connection between them. Unconnected issues will not be funded.
  • Project must be appropriate in scale and timing to the organization’s current life cycle.
  • Project must have the potential to significantly contribute to the organization’s medium or long-term success in relation to its mission.
  • Applicants must demonstrate that they are ready to implement their project within first three (3) months after receiving notification of the grant.
  • Applicants that are proposing to use a consultant must demonstrate in writing that they will be able to secure appropriate services within three months of receiving grant award notification (while helpful, bids or contracts are not required).
  • Applicants must articulate a plan for meaningfully monitoring activities and documenting change resulting from the project. This documentation will be requested in the final report.
  • Applicants must provide a written plan for disseminating the results of the project, as appropriate, throughout their organization.

Allowable Activities Requiring Further Explanation:
In addition to generally acceptable activities associated with the grant program (see Framework), the following specific activities are allowable under this grant:

  • Paying for staff or key stakeholder time to participate in processes requiring broad input/participation if individuals are not full-time or volunteer leaders of the organization.
  • Paying for additional hours for current part-time staff to implement activities outlined in the grant. Funds cannot be used to pay for a person’s time taking on activities that are currently being done by another staff member, so that the second staff member can engage in the grant activities.

Ineligible Activities:
Activities that are ineligible for this grant include:

  • The support of programmatic activities that further the organization’s mission; activities that are externally oriented.
  • The hiring of permanent staff (a commitment of employment beyond the grant end date).
  • The use of funds to support part-time staff salaries without any corresponding increase in hours directly related to additional project activities.
  • The use of funds to support full-time staff salaries, even if the staff person takes on activities associated with the grant.
  • The funding feasibility studies for capital campaigns.
  • Any activities that begin before January.
  • Purchase of large computer infrastructure that CFWM determines to be a capital expense (e.g., hardware) or that is not “transformative” for the organization’s effectiveness.

Please click here to view activities that are ineligible for funding from any of CFWM’s grant programs.

Grant Process:

  • All applications must occur using CFWM online application.
  • All applicants must schedule a pre-application phone call with the Capacity Program Officer to discuss their initial proposal ideas. Pre-application phone conversation slots will be first come, first served. Availability of phone slots is based on the anticipated number of proposals that can be managed by CFWM. Available time slots may fill up and are not guaranteed.
  • Applications must be complete, including all correct attachments at time of submission. No exceptions can be made. If you have any questions, we highly encourage you to contact your program officer well in advance of the application deadline.
  • Applicants selected for funding will be notified by mid/late December.

Important 2019 Dates:

  • Pre-application phone call appointments opened on July 11, 2019.
  • Pre-application phone call appointments end August 30, 2019 (after this date, organizations that have not had a phone call are ineligible to apply).
  • Grant application open as of July 11, 2019.
  • Final reports from organizations with prior grants must be submitted and approved by CFWM by August 6, 2019 5:00 p.m.
  • Grant submission deadline: September 6, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.
  • Funding decisions will be made by mid/late December 2019.

Application and Related Materials:


Contact Information: 

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