Our View: Helping organizations survive and thrive through capacity building

By Lisa Fasolo Frishman
Senior Program Officer

Lisa Fasolo Frishman
Lisa Fasolo Frishman

I have spent a great deal of time recently thinking about nonprofit resiliency in the wake of the current political climate at the federal and state level. What does it mean for an organization to be resilient? What will it take for an organization to not only survive but thrive in the current landscape when each day brings new headlines that create more questions than answers?

How can foundations, specifically our Foundation, help agencies and leaders prepare for the changing marketplace, as well as a funding climate that seems to be asking for demonstrated outcomes, higher quality of care, and more accountability with fewer resources?

Through programs like Ready or Not, Get Set, Storygrowing,  and our Health Leadership Fellows, our Foundation has made a commitment to invest in capacity building efforts because we recognize and value the notion that it is critical for leaders and organizations to access tools and resources to promote effectiveness and relevancy.

Our funding history confirms our deep commitment to capacity building, which  you can witness  throughout our geographic footprint in western and central New York. The data tells us that when leaders have the  resources and time to ask critical questions about their organizations they are open to adapting and making the necessary changes to improve their processes and focus on demonstrating better outcomes.

On March 16, we launched our third cohort of Get Set in Western New York.  On April 24 we will graduate our sixth cohort of Health Leadership Fellows and we’ll be welcoming our eighth cohort this summer. The stories our grantees and Fellows share with us about the transformational changes they have experienced as a direct result of the peer learning, educational sessions, speakers, and the coaching they received through our programs has encouraged us to continually reinvest and recommit to these programs.

But whether a leader goes through our Health Leaders Fellowship or one of our other capacity building programs, we ask them engage numerous members of their staff and board members to share in the learning. We ask them to think about engaging in and approaching their work differently. We encourage them to be bold and innovative. We invite them to develop a plan for their organization based on the vision they have for improving the lives of those they serve, not just on what the resources on their financial spreadsheets suggest is possible. We challenge our grantees to abandon planning with scarcity mindset and understand that operating with an abundance mentality spurs creativity, growth, and opprotunity. We create the opportunity for leaders to carve out time and space to be able to evaluate, tweak, discuss, and prepare to lead their organizations through change.

One grantee I met with to discuss Get Set said, “Everyone should have access to Get Set. The program, while challenging, has changed our organization for the better in every way possible.”

We know that resiliency is paramount to our partners’ ability to thrive in the changing landscape, so we commit and focus our funding on programs that help them prepare for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. We support our grantees in being able to demonstrate and articulate their value so they are confident in their ability to identify and take advantage of business opportunities when they are presented. Most importantly, we are proud to champion these efforts, to learn from our grantees, our Fellows and funding partners, and to support the incredible growth that investing in capacity building promotes.

Whether you are one of our grantee partners or a funder, I encourage you to contact me at lfasolo@hfwcny.org if you’d like to learn more about our capacity building programs.