A post to Exponent Philanthropy's blog

Inspiring a Nonprofit Community

Foellinger Foundation invests heavily in capacity building grants because, along with operating support, they fulfill our mission of supporting effective leaders and nonprofits. The best organizations are always seeking ways to reach, stretch, and grow.

Small capacity building grants are often the fuel an organization needs to excel.

We’ve learned organizations need different types of capacity grants. Here are examples of activities our Capacity Building grants fund:

  • Financial sustainability
  • Board governance
  • Alignment of mission with organizational processes and culture
  • Succession planning
  • Peer organization review
  • Evaluation
  • Sabbaticals
  • Marketing and communications
  • Strategic restructuring

Learn more about our Capacity Building grants.

Our Inspire Grant program

For the foundation’s 50th anniversary in 2008, we rolled out the Inspire Grant. The two-phase Inspire Grant offers an opportunity for renewal and reflection, and then action. Inspire Grants have left a lasting impact on some organizations.

Cancer Services of Northeast Indiana is one organization changed by the grant. An original Inspire Grant allowed Cancer Services the chance to explore complementary care and wellness support for its patients and caregivers. The exploration resulted in implementation of various measures of complementary care by training massage therapists in the specifics of working with oncology patients, offering those services at Cancer Services, and educating the medical community on (at the time) cutting-edge thoughts in wellness therapy.

Since the first Inspire Grant, Cancer Services now has two massage therapists on staff and offers group classes for yoga, tai chi, stretching, meditation, and more. Cancer Services has been able to adapt to—and, in many ways, lead—the way cancer patients are supported in our community.

“The Inspire Grant was energizing to the whole organization. We were able to take a risk to explore the unknown because of Foellinger Foundation,” says Executive Director Dianne May.

One time only?

What we learned from the Cancer Services grant—and 15 others provided as part of the “one time only” 50th anniversary opportunity—was that organizations need grants that allow them to step back, experiment, and innovate. Organizations needed the foundation to provide those incubator funds on a regular basis, not “one time only.” Foellinger Foundation committed to offering Inspire Grants on a regular basis.

We see that those organizations led by the truly original-thinking leaders often come back for another grant. In 2019, the Foundation awarded Cancer Services a second Inspire Grant to review what has changed in the field, reassess the community’s needs, and develop new, relevant programming that demonstrates their time spent in reflection.

Inspiring nonprofit leaders, inspiring their work…what better way to support the foundation’s ongoing investment in organizations?

Cheryl Taylor has been president and CEO of the Foellinger Foundation since 2001 and a member of its board of directors since 2002. She serves on its executive, investment, and finance committees, and provides staff support for its board development committee. She also serves on the board of directors of Community Partnerships, Inc.

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