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Improving Capacity among Nonprofits—Impact Study of the Compassion Capital Fund Demonstration Program

Published: June 11, 2010
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There has been a sustained focus on the role faith-based and community nonprofit organizations (NPOs) play in the country’s social service network. Many argue that NPOs operating at the community level better understand the unique circumstances of their clients and the context in which they live and raise their families; they often have gained the community’s trust based on their ability to help community members in their time of need. Most agree that these characteristics are important and set NPOs apart from many governmental service providers. However, while these attributes and characteristics are vital, there are other domains of organizational capacity that are critical to longevity and effectiveness and are often lacking in community-level NPOs. Because of the unique role that NPOs play, many funders, including the federal government, believe it is worthwhile to help NPOs reach their full potential through assisting them to strengthen their “organizational capacity.” In the nonprofit field, definitions of “organizational capacity” vary, but key components cited in the literature include the implementation of financial controls and clear operating oversight, as well as policies and procedures related to staffing, finances, long-term sustainability and expansion of services.
To address the interest in and need for increased organizational capacity, the federal government has funded several programs that provide capacity building services (e.g., workshops, one-on-one training) to NPOs. Those programs include the Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) Compassion Capital Fund (CCF), the Department of Justice’s Prisoner Re-entry program, and the Department of Labor’s Ready4Work program. The Compassion Capital Fund is one of the largest of these initiatives. Established in 2002 by PL 107-116, the purpose of CCF is to expand and strengthen the role of faith-based and community nonprofits in providing social services to low-income communities. One of the components of CCF is the Demonstration Program.

Last Reviewed: December 18, 2018