“It gave confidence to other funding partners and donors. It was a door opener. We still then have to do all the usual kind of fundraising, philanthropy, engagement work in terms of building that trust in us as a collaborative. We still have to do a lot of that engagement and education around systems change and trust-based philanthropy. It gave us the confidence that there was belief in the model and belief in what we were doing.”
- Mitali Wroczynski, Associate Director, Partnerships, Co-Impact
Unrestricted funding uniquely allows organizations to plan for scale in different ways. This may mean leadership development, expanding the organization’s geographical footprint, or rooting the work more deeply in cultural values and community priorities. For others, scale means exploring the freedom to set new directions and domains of work, such as moving from direct service provision to policy advocacy. For some, it could mean a continuation of operations to get closer to the long-term systemic change they hope to achieve.
- Define what scale means to your organization and what implications it has on your organization programmatically and operationally.
Define what scale means to your organization and what implications it has on your organization programmatically and operationally.
Receiving a substantial unrestricted grant often comes with expectations for organizations to scale. However, there are myriad ways to scale from expanding geographic footprint, engaging in new partnerships, policy advocacy, and deepening existing work. However, approaches to scale are rarely defined.
Organizations offered a wide range of approaches for getting to scale, including:
Changing Hearts – Scaling can be an opportunity to deepen the work by focusing on foundational teachings and approaches. It allows resources to prepare teams to be humbly inquisitive in the communities with whom they work and ensure that programs are rooted in cultural values and strengths.
Leadership Development - Scaling can also mean putting resources towards fostering staff growth and cultivating leaders to better take up the work and support their communities.
Freedom to Explore - Scaling can create space for mental and philosophical freedom to explore innovative and previously untried or untested pathways. It can liberate an organization from the scarcity mindset and open minds to realize the depth and breadth of possibility.
Shifting Perspectives - Scaling can also allow an organization to revisit its work and reimagine who and how to include communities, partners, and other stakeholders in your work.
Resource Distribution - Scaling can also be externally focused by regranting funds to communities, thereby expanding and enhancing the grant’s impact and providing access to resources and relationships that are otherwise limited.
Re-centering Humanity - Scaling also means the space and dedication to continually center humanity in the work—to believe that racial justice and equity is possible. The risk of losing heart in the work is a limitation of the impact that can be made and becoming the oppressor.
Long-term Impact -Scale could also simply mean the opportunity to have a steady stream of resources that support towards long-term impact with a lowered pressure for fundraising.
Systemic Change - With more resources available for intersectional, un-siloed work, scale could mean access to funding that allows overlaps between departments and programs within organizations, or the opportunity for multi-sectoral partnerships where allied causes and missions come together, or organizations that pursue norm changing, social justice and work on social determinants where the issues are never unidimensional.
Tools & Resources
Nonprofit Strategy Revolution Tools
These ten tools can help nonprofits identify and address critical strategic issues such as analysis in finance, trends, and competitors. This tool can assist in developing an organization's identity statement and brand.
Reduce Your HR Worries and Woes: HR Strategy & Best Practices for Growing
A webinar from the BUILDing for Growth program, including topics on recruiting, hiring, retention compensation evaluation.
Monitoring & Evaluation Toolkit
A practical toolkit for changemakers to create an effective impact analysis strategy for their projects.
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