Creating Grants to Bridge the Fundraising Training Gap

Grant program to help Chicago-area nonprofits train board, senior staff in effective fundraising Tweet This

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At the heart of the Trust’s new strategic plan is a commitment to inspiring philanthropy—and an embrace of innovation.

Innovation will change the way the Trust works with donors, as we expand our suite of creative co-investments: collaborative charitable ventures that we design together, combining donors’ assets with the Trust’s resources for greater impact.

But innovation has also led us to transcend the traditional divide between our work to support nonprofits through grants, and our work to steward and strengthen local philanthropy.

In spring 2017, the Trust will award its first grants in Inspiring Philanthropy, focusing on development training for boards, executive directors and other key staff.

Development training has been a best practice in the field for years—but too many nonprofits lack the resources to consistently provide such training.

Beginning with On the Table in 2014, and continuing through more than 100 conversations among the region’s development professionals, we heard again and again: To build more philanthropy for Chicago, help nonprofits do their fundraising better.

Specifically, development training for boards and staff members was identified as the single most effective method to inspire philanthropy across the charitable sector in our region. Strengthening these skills will have a leveraging effect, allowing board members to give more and raise more money, and allowing staff to implement the most effective development plans.

This type of development training has been a best practice in the field for years—but too many nonprofits lack the resources to consistently provide such training. Often foundation support is designated for specific programs and service delivery, rather than being available to use for training that strengthens the organization’s foundation.

Application information for the first cycle of Inspiring Philanthropy grants will follow shortly. Today, we do know that all recipients’ engagement will begin with a “development audit” to determine their greatest needs or opportunities. Grants will support not just one type of training, but rather a range of activities: training board members to solicit donors, training staff to write grant proposals, or training development officers to build a comprehensive development plan.

In following cycles, the specific priorities for grant funding may evolve based on our learnings. However, the goal of the program will remain constant: to increase the pipeline of philanthropic funding. So that rather than out-competing one another for a share of the same limited charitable resources, all organizations experience more successful development that enables them to grow toward strength and sustainability.


Update: Applications for the first-ever Inspiring Philanthropy grants have been accepted, and recipients will be announced in June 2017.