The nonprofit sector is a powerful force in the U.S. economy. According to the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, more than 70 million people work and volunteer in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofits employ more people than every other sector except retail and manufacturing, and their revenue accounts for nearly 10 percent of the U.S. GDP. As a result, recipients and funders alike have a serious stake in a nonprofit’s ability to reach the best possible decisions, work effectively, and sustain itself over time. Nonprofits are vitally important to the health and wellbeing of the United States as we know it. And with organizations such as Guidestar tracking not only nonprofit financial data but also assessing the impact of their activities, nonprofits are under increasing pressure to deliver more, faster, and with less overhead. It’s not just the United States either: more than 1.2 million Canadians are employed in the nonprofit sector, and China has more than half a million registered nonprofits (China’s first ever charity fair took place in 2012).
In response to the need to maintain daily functions as well as scale the critical work of nonprofits, corporate funders are increasingly turning to grants that help build capacity. Capacity-building programs are about strengthening the systems that support the existing good work of a nonprofit. Common activities supported by these grants include staff training, technology improvements, board development, strategic planning, communication, strategy development, and program evaluation.
Many of our member corporations offer such capacity-building support to their nonprofit partners as part of their corporate giving programs. Doing so is certainly a win-win; corporations can evaluate the impact of their grants and organizations can make an even greater impact with increased resources and abilities. In our December webinar, we were joined by corporations with exemplary commitments to their partners’ growth and demonstrated success of the causes they support.
NetSuite, a U.S. software company, donates both their product and the key competencies of their employees to nonprofit organizations, enabling them to analyze and evaluate their performance and outcome data. NetSuite’s software puts the tracking of donations, volunteers, assets, programs, and projects all in one place. In addition, NetSuite sends its employee volunteers to offer their skills and expertise to their grant recipients so that they can run more effectively and expand their impact. By providing their product as a resource to organizations for which a quality capital investment would be out of reach, NetSuite enables the nonprofit to concentrate its human capital on more strategic activities.
Our second speaker is from Booz Allen Hamilton, a management consulting firm in Virginia that hosts a speaker series for nonprofit leaders. The lessons and tools gained in these sessions help leaders strengthen existing projects, adopt effective approaches, and develop new ideas. Through the speaker series as well as in their skills based volunteering program, Booz Allen employees donate their own time and professional skills in the areas of strategic planning, program evaluation, and community development. The end result is enhanced professional abilities of nonprofit leaders, directly affecting the effectiveness and impact of the nonprofits themselves.
If you would like to learn more about how corporations can help nonprofits build capacity check out our On-Demand Webinar (Members Only).
 Center for Civil Society Studies, Johns Hopkins University: http://ccss.jhu.edu/announcing-the-3rd-edition-of-americas-nonprofit-sector-a-primer