Welcome to the
Philanthropic Capacity Building Resources (PCBR)
The PCBR database contains 456 descriptions of capacity-building programs being carried out by U.S. foundations. From this database, you may obtain program profiles and conduct searches for programs under one or more search categories, as defined below. If you have questions about a specific program that is not yet on the web site, please e-mail us.
PCBR also contains 32 profiles of intermediary organizations that serve as bridges between foundations and nonprofits. These intermediaries provide capacity-building assistance to nonprofits, supported financially by foundations and others (sometimes foundations provide non-financial resources as well). Visit our Intermediaries page to learn more and to access the profiles.
The PCBR database entered its eleventh year of continuous operation in 2013. A complete system upgrade was completed in June 2010, to complement regular updates done annually, mostly recently in July 2012, to incorporate changes submitted by foundations and intermediaries operating these programs. The system upgrade included staff review of every profile, and direct contact with the sponsoring foundation to update any profiles that required it.
A recent grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Action Lab enabled PCBR to conduct an analysis of lessons learned from evaluations done on a total of 248 programs in the PCBR system at that time. Results are based both on review of data already in the system and new inquiries of programs that have been evaluated. These results are presented by program in the updated database, and are synthesized in a study report released in 2010 and available for free downloading from the Publications page of the HIRI website.
The PCBR database is intended to be a free-standing information and referral resource. As part of its ongoing work on nonprofit capacity building and philanthropy, the Human Interaction Research Institute welcomes inquiries from funders needing specialized information or technical assistance on capacity building, from planners of educational or conference activities seeking a speaker, or from research colleagues.
Help Us Make PCBR More Useful
After using the PCBR database, we would greatly appreciate your sending us comments by e-mail about whether you found what you needed, and about any suggestions you may have for enhancing the database.
Each program profile includes (a) a narrative description of the program; (b) contact information to learn more; (c) details about how the program is structured and funded, and what types of assistance it offers to nonprofits; and (d) whether and how it has been evaluated; and (e) for selected programs, what lessons have been learned from evaluation (including impacts from the capacity-building work). Each profile has been submitted for approval to its sponsoring foundation, and any changes requested have been made. The entire database is updated annually to incorporate new or changed information, including additional profiles (each profile indicates when it was last updated). Programs that are no longer in operation are labeled Completed Program at the beginning of the profile and also identified as such on all search reports.
Click here to see how the foundation program profiles are set up
and what information they contain.
Foundation Program Reports You Can Request
The following reports are available online:
- All Foundations in Database
- Foundations by Type of Foundation
- All Programs in Database
- Programs Under Evaluation/With Completed Evaluation
- Programs/Foundations by Type of Capacity-Building Grant
- Programs/Foundations by Type of Capacity-Building Direct Financial Support
- Programs/Foundations by Type of Capacity-Building Direct Service
- Programs/Foundations by Grants to Capacity-Building Service Providers and Intermediaries
- Programs/Foundations by Grants to Support Overall Capacity-Building Infrastructure
- Programs/Foundations by Area of Nonprofit Operations Assisted
- Programs/Foundations by Geography of Grantees/Service Recipients
- Programs/Foundations by Multiple Search Categories
Click here to select one or more of the
online foundation program PCBR reports.
PCBR, an initiative of the nonprofit Human Interaction Research Institute, promotes exchange and use of information about nonprofit capacity building among foundations, capacity-building service providers, nonprofits, intermediary organizations, researchers, evaluators and academic institutions. Initiated in January 2002, PCBR has been supported by the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, Bruner Foundation, Ewing M. Kauffman Foundation, Agnes and Eugene Meyer Foundation, The California Wellness Foundation, Southern California Association for Philanthropy, The California Endowment, Unihealth Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Surdna Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and an anonymous donor. The Carnegie Corporation supported a national study of foundation financing for nonprofit capacity building.
Our goal is to provide as comprehensive a database as possible. We welcome information about other foundations and their capacity-building programs that may be candidates for inclusion. Some foundations with relevant capacity-building programs will not be included in our database, however, either because we have not yet identified and processed them, or because a foundation may choose not to be included due to time constraints, program changes underway, or concerns that a listing might result in too many inquiries.
In addition to this database, PCBR offers publications, conference presentations, training programs, and community-wide technical assistance on capacity building. Please contact us for a current listing. HIRI also conducts research studies on capacity building.
We welcome your feedback, suggestions, and inquiries. Please e-mail or call us.
Thomas E. Backer, PhD, Project Director
Jane Ellen Bleeg, Project Manager
Kathryn Groves, Project Coordinator
Joan Ewing, Volunteer Research Assistant
Mary Anne Shew, Technology Consultant, Business Vitality
Definition of Capacity Building
Capacity building is the term used to describe funding, and services such as staff and board training, technology or other capital purchases, fund-raising strategy development, and other activities that help strengthen nonprofit organizations.
Any funding or direct service intended to help nonprofits improve their performance and strengthen their ability to achieve their mission is a capacity-building intervention. The end result of capacity building is improved organizational health. The value of capacity building rests on the assumption that healthier organizations are generally better able to serve their constituencies and accomplish their desired outcomes.
Among the interventions considered to be capacity building in nature:
- Direct financial support provided as a targeted grant, core operating support or working capital.
- Assessment of nonprofit organization needs and capabilities, and/or the community environment.
- Interventions such as training or technical assistance.
The following substantive areas can be targets for capacity-building work:
- Administration & finance
- Facilities management
- Fund development
- Governance (board & executive leadership)
- Staff development & training
- Information & technology support
- Legal/risk management
- Human resources
- Communication (internal & external)
Links to More Information
The organizations below also provide information about capacity building and philanthropy. When clicked, each link will open in a new browser window:
- Alliance for Nonprofit Management, www.allianceonline.org
- Board Source, www.boardsource.org
- Capaciteria, www.capaciteria.org
- Council on Foundations, www.cof.org
- Foundation Center,
- Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, www.geofunders.org
- Guidestar, www.guidestar.org
- Independent Sector, www.independentsector.org
- Innovation Network, www.innonet.org
- National Council of Nonprofit Associations, www.ncna.org
- NPower, www.npower.org
- St. Paul Management Assistance Program,
- Techsoup, www.techsoup.org