Building Financial Strength and Program Quality

GrantCraft (Ford Foundation)



Case Study Sector


Work alongside a grantmaker who created a new program to strengthen community foundations—building both their financial wealth and the effectiveness of their programs. What choices would you have made?  

Grantmaker Sara Greene had just completed six months' work exploring the world of community foundations and was now ready to put forward the centerpiece of her initiative—a multimillion dollar grants competition for community foundation leadership. Greene believed that this competition would both strengthen community foundations' endowments and build their capacity to be effective community catalysts and grant makers. The prospect filled her with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.

Greene was excited because she felt that this competition could have a galvanizing impact on the field. The competition she envisioned was based on the then-novel premise that building a community foundation's program capacity could help it to achieve asset development objectives. At that time, to her knowledge, no other national funder had seen the connection between asset development and programming effectiveness, and none had explored its implications in terms of a funding strategy.

Greene was anxious, however, because she knew that the time had come to convert her concept into a specific request for proposals. In addition to creating a document that would explain the competition to the field, she needed to report on her progress at an upcoming meeting of the foundation's board of trustees. As she sat down at her desk, Greene wondered where to begin. . . .



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