Case Study 3:
Leveraging funding for smarter investment

Client Profile

  • A group of four philanthropic families from one city
  • Total annual allocations of the families exceeded $5 million

Business Challenge

Non-profit organizations in a US city were running uncoordinated fundraising campaigns for capital projects and often pitching unsustainable ventures to major donors. Donors were seeking to invest equal or increasing amounts in the community organizations, but were unable to do so because of weak coordination and poorly conceived plans. An “old school” approach of “you’ve always funded us, so you’ll fund this too” dominated the landscape. How could the funders drive the non-profit organizations to plan with greater business sense, taking into account the funders’ grantmaking schedules and venture sustainability?


ChangeCraft was engaged to facilitate conversations amongst the philanthropists about how to remedy this “non-business-like” culture. Interviews were held with several dozen stakeholders in the community, including philanthropists, NGO leaders and others, to determine what potential solutions could be developed that would meet the needs of the funders and the grantee organizations. Recommendations were then delivered to the key philanthropic families and a series of facilitated stakeholder conversations was convened. As a result, seventy funding families in the city co-signed a letter to all community organizations stipulating that only proposals with accompanying business plans would be considered for funding. Organizations lacking the skill set internally to develop these business plans were offered grants to contract this work externally. Community organizations were clearly informed of the families’ desire to increase their philanthropic giving under these new conditions. Nearly all community organizations complied with these demands within three months.

Business Benefits/Impact

  • Business plans for ongoing operational sustainability for every new capital project in the city
  • Fewer failed capital campaigns
  • Fewer organizations seeking emergency operating resources post construction
  • Increased alignment between organizations in their campaign timing