Photo: Symbol for Capacity Building


Posted on March 17, 2023 by Connor LaGrange, TPF Fellow 2021/23
The Patterson Foundation (TPF) strengthens the efforts of people, organizations, and communities in the Suncoast region of Florida and beyond. TPF strives to fulfill this mission by understanding how the sector and community continue to evolve and embrace new ideas that address a constantly changing world. One of the ways the foundation works to catalyze efforts toward shared aspirations is through five key actions: connecting, learning, sharing, evolving, and strengthening (CLSES).

In the Suncoast, a litany of adept, nimble, and active funders contribute to nonprofits’ health and long-term sustainability in unique and innovative ways. Taking time to listen, ask questions, and explore builds mutual understanding and helps TPF evolve and strengthen its offerings to best address community needs. Using TPF’s CLSES model as a guide, conversations were initiated by reaching out to select funders within TPF’s four-county region (Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties).

To better understand the importance of these conversations and the findings which came from them, we must understand the region and the funders serving in the area. The nine funders who were a part of these conversations have a combined asset value of more than $1.2 billion and fund in the following counties:
  • Charlotte
  • DeSoto
  • Manatee
  • Sarasota
There is some overlap in funding with Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. The Suncoast region represents over 1 million people and over 1,000 nonprofit organizations.

The conversations with funders led to a report compiling the different ways funders across the region view capacity building. The key findings which emerged throughout the conversations are as follows:
  1. Definitions of capacity-building vary vastly
  2. Collaboration is key but can be convoluted
  3. Yesterday’s practices may not fit today’s realities
  4. Funding typically falls into two buckets – people and infrastructures
  5. Aspirations for capacity-building beyond the check

These findings help paint a better picture of how funders in the area are working to strengthen the nonprofit partners they are in contact with. Furthermore, these findings reinforce the importance of finding funder alignment and a willingness to work together.

To read the full report with in-depth analysis, click here.

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