Capacity Building Overview

After investing $10 million over eight years to build the capacity of Southside Virginia nonprofit organizations, in 2014, The Cameron Foundation sought ways to fine-tune what has worked and to pursue new approaches. Foundation staff and board members, nonprofit leaders and peer foundations were engaged to ensure that the redesigned program met Foundation goals, community needs and proven approaches. The capacity-building program was redesigned with elements offering support to organizations across a range of sizes and levels of sophistication – all aimed at improving performance for greater impact. The redesigned approach to capacity building includes several elements:

  1. Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE): The Foundation is partnering with CNE to provide programs and services for area nonprofits to help build the organizations’ capacity to achieve mission. CNE’s work is divided into three elements: pre- and post-support for participants of the Cameron-sponsored Duke University Nonprofit Management Classes; support for Cameron-sponsored organizations completing the Organizational Improvement Process; and, offering its Pathway to a Healthy Organization program locally.
  2. Duke University Nonprofit Management Classes: The Foundation works in partnership with Duke University to provide nonprofit management classes for organizations serving the Tri-Cities area. The classes, which are customized through Duke University’s Office of Continuing Education, represent a cornerstone of the Foundation’s capacity building program. Topics are matched to community needs and tailored to meet organizations at their level of sophistication.
  3. Cleveland A. Wright Lecture Series was introduced in 2015 as a way to bring the community together to learn from national experts in areas of nonprofit practice. Each year, a speaker visits the community and lectures at the Foundation’s annual meeting in October.
  4. Learning Communities: Collective learning among nonprofit leaders in the same field has proven to be an approach to improve practice and develop peer relationships that spur greater collaboration. Learning communities can be a follow-up to events like the Cameron-sponsored health equity workshops that have taken place in several localities across the Foundation’s service area. Learning communities also can be organized separately to focus on an issue, such as the collaboration of Partners for Neighborhood Renewal—Poplar Lawn. With a goal to undertake targeted neighborhood revitalization, the partnership is facilitated by The Cameron Foundation and consists of several nonprofit housing and preservation organizations as well as the City of Petersburg.