News & Views

Inspiration, information, and perspectives from the LeadersTrust team and our partners

Theo Rigby

Linda Baker: Strengthening The Hearts And Lungs Of Social Change

Oct 16, 2018 | News

In this blog published by CEP, the LeadersTrust Advisory Board member, Linda Baker says: “One of the most powerful ways that we can support our partners is through “capacity building” — providing a responsive mixture of training, support, and engagement that extends our partners’ reach. Developing these core abilities is like strengthening a leader or organization’s hearts and lungs.”

The LeadersTrust Advisory Board member, Linda Baker, talks about how funders can better support the capacity of the organizations they fund:

“We are falling short of providing the customized and flexible organization-level support that our grantee partners need. We want to do the right thing — and those in positions of authority at foundations believe that we are doing the right thing — but our aspirations are not showing up in our behavior.

Why is that? One possibility is that funders are set in their ways, listening only for what has been needed in the past. As times change, needs change. When asked last summer about what keeps them up at night, a group of our U.S.-based grantee partners told us that they are concerned about self-care for their staff; physical and digital security; real-time strategy and communications; and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Each of these topics falls under the rubric of “capacity building,” but most were not common themes from our partners a few years ago.

Another possibility is that we are not opening the door for conversation. As the CEP report finds, sometimes our grantee partners will ask for what they think we are most likely to support, rather than what they most need. That is not partnership. For grantees to be able to get what they need, we have to make it clear that the door is open.”