In this guide, grantmakers from a wide range of funding organizations describe their experiences as supporters of new nonprofits, or start-ups. Find out how they negotiated the path from idea to organization, and what they learned along the way about how to solve problems and help an organization sustain itself into the future. Contributors to this guide also offer their recommendations for online capacity-building resources.
What's in the Guide?
- Deciding whether to fund a start-up
- Figuring out the nuts and bolts
- Helping a new organization build its capacity
- Managing your role
- Understanding the Need: In deciding whether or not to fund a start-up, the first step is figuring out if a new organization is needed. It also makes sense to ask if the timing is right, if the right people are involved, and if you're the right funder for the job.
- Moving from Idea to Organization: The nuts and bolts of assembling a sound organization may not be thrilling, but they usually have as much to do with long-term success or failure as the quality of the original idea itself.
- Managing Your Role in Planning and Development: Eventually, a new organization needs to be independent, which means the funder's guiding and advising role normally has to wind down. How large that role should be and how long it should last are questions that need to be considered early, and maybe revisited later, as the start-up process moves along.
- Building Supportive Constituencies: By involving interested people and helping the grantee communicate and make connections, a funder can strengthen the position of a new organization.
- Establishing Strong Leadership and Governance: Every organization needs effective executive leadership and a committed board. Funders are often involved in recruiting the right people for those roles and helping them to work well together.
- Getting the Most from Technical Assistance: Whether expert advice is paid for or donated, it's worthwhile to keep a few principles in mind.
- Planning and Building a Stable Future: The duration and terms of the initial grant, as well as the financial plan, determine a lot about the organization's sustainability and its ability to attract other funders.
- Helping a New Organization with Fundraising: Fundraising requires skill, contacts, and confidence -- all of which a new organization needs to develop in its first few years. That process can be improved with help from an interested funder.