Nonprofit Capacity Building Grants

We seek to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and performance of area nonprofits. Capacity building refers to activities that strengthen the ability of a nonprofit to achieve greater performance and impact.

Project examples include but are not limited to evaluation of core programs, staff or board training, improvement of technology systems, and merger or formal collaboration between organizations.

Typically, grants range from $5,500 to $40,000 with the majority of grants in the $15,000 range. Capacity building grants generally require the recipient organization to raise matching funds.

Click here for the list of 2013 Nonprofit Capacity Building grantees.

Please email Director of Grants and Initiatives Ashley Harper or call her at (901) 722-0022 for more information on grant opportunities.

Grant Schedule

The application process for 2014 capacity building grants will begin in June. All applicants are encouraged to attend pre-application information sessions. Attendance is mandatory for organizations that have not attended a session within the past two years.

2014 Timeline
June, July – Pre-application information sessions will be offered. Register here for a session.
August 1 – Letter of intent due; selected nonprofits will be invited to submit full applications
September 22 – Full applications due
October, November – Site visits
December – Grant awards announced


Eligible applicant organizations can demonstrate that they:

  • Have operated as a 501(c)(3) agency for the last three consecutive years or longer;
  • Provide significant community impact in and have solid relationships with the communities they serve;
  • Have stable, demonstrated board and staff leadership;
  • Operate under sound financial management and are financially stable; and
  • Have a recent strategic plan (within the last three years) that is consistent with the current vision of the organization with evidence that staff, board, and other stakeholders (if applicable) were involved in the process. The strategic plan, as opposed to a business plan, should have a multi-year focus addressing the whole organization and not simply one program or project.

You may download a printable copy of the eligibility criteria and application timeline here


Download a printable copy of questions.

  • Board development: recruitment and training
  • Training and development of next-tier leadership
  • Executive transition, planning
  • Management coaching 
  • Needs assessment
  • Resource development: earned-income strategies
  • Organizational assessments and development
  • Strategic collaborations or mergers
  • Development of evaluation systems and training
  • Perception surveys
  • Feasibility studies
  • Facility planning and feasibility
  • Human resources: developing policy
  • Developing strategic plan to recruit or maintain volunteer support
  • Staff development programs
  • Technology skills training
  • Team-building efforts: off-site meetings
  • Technology planning and implementation
  • Business analysis and planning skills
  • Financial training: implementing new accounting systems
  • Marketing and communications training
No, all grantees must have operated as 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations for a minimum of three consecutive years.
Yes. While grants are not made to fund houses of worship or organizations whose primary mission is strictly religious, we will fund faith-based nonprofits.
Vans have not been funded in the past, as they serve only transportation needs and do not necessarily strengthen the organization. Computer hardware and software, when requested for the viability of the whole organization or core programs, will be considered. 
The committee is composed of board members from the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis as well as volunteers from the community. Foundation staff manages the process and serves in an advisory role, but does not vote on grant awards. 
No. Nonprofits should wait at least one grant cycle before re-applying after receiving funding.  
No, a strategic plan is developed with participation from the board and staff, and sometimes other stakeholders. It has a multi-year focus and provides a road map for the organization to achieve its mission. 
If awarded a grant, nonprofits are generally required to match the foundation grant dollar for dollar (a $10,000 grant requires a $10,000 match). This requirement is intended to help the nonprofit leverage new funds for the project and reach out to other donors and funders. Normally the match is expected to be cash (not in-kind) donated in response to the grant and specific to the capacity building project. Other arrangements can be discussed on a case by case basis. 
Absolutely. Our staff is happy to speak with you more about your project, either in person or by phone. Please email Director of Grants and Initiatives Ashley Harper or call her at (901) 722-0022 for more information on grant opportunities.