RFP: Building Nonprofit Organizational Capacity

Monday, August 6, 2018

Request for Applications

Forefront and United Way of Central Illinois are partnering to assist nonprofit organizations located within Sangamon and Menard counties in building their organizational capacity. The workshop series is ideal for nonprofit professionals from entry-level staff to CEOs, who care about making an investment in their organization and the sector. The series is limited to 25 individuals. All nonprofits within Sangamon and Menard counties are encouraged to apply by 8/17/2018. See below for background information and instructions on how to apply.


Focus of the RFP

Forefront is seeking to assist nonprofit organizations in building their capacity by providing a five-part workshop series, Building Nonprofit Organizational Capacity, sponsored by the United Way of Central Illinois. Through this series, participants will explore the relationship between program success and organizational capacity and sustainability. It is our hope this effort will lead to improved organizational effectiveness and performance, and in turn, increased capacity and financial sustainability. 

This framework provides participants a working model that can be used as an effective tool and approach to strengthening, re-design or scale-up the skills, infrastructure and volunteer capacity of Nonprofit programs and organizations

As a result of the series, our hope is nonprofits will experience and be able to demonstrate evidence of the following:

  • Define organizational capacity and understand its importance in achieving program and organizational outcomes.
  • Understand the relationship between leadership and capacity building.
  • Learn how to identify capacity strengths and challenges, establish capacity building goals and track growth in capacity over time.
  • Understand the importance of conducting organizational assessment to identify opportunities for capacity building.
  • Understand the importance of building governance capacity to support the ability of the Board to fully understand their role in building and sustaining organizational capacity.
  • Learn the importance of focusing on strategic impact across the overall system.
  • Understand the role of effective supervision in building human capital capacity.
  • Define strategic capacity building and understand its importance in achieving program and organizational outcomes.


What We Know

Nonprofit capacity building is arguably the most important investment the nonprofit sector can make to ensure healthy and vibrant organizations. Capacity building is the critical answer to the environment under which most non‐profits are currently operating, that of managing uncertainty and meeting the demands of funders to demonstrate programmatic and organizational impact. Yet, capacity building is perhaps the least understood concept in the non‐profit sector. 

In this five part workshop series, Building Nonprofit Organizational Capacity, participants will explore the relationship between program success and organizational capacity and sustainability.  This five part series is organized around Robert Quinn’s Competing Values Framework (CVF) which provides features and elements of organizational effectiveness essential to capacity building. CVF consists of four key areas or quadrants: strategic capacity, internal process capacity, human capital capacity and innovation building capacity (Connolly & York, 2003).

Quinn’s Competing Values Framework is one method and mechanism designed to help organizations diagnose and make proper changes to organizational culture and practices that will improve execution of capacity building efforts. The Competing Values Framework (CVF) emerged from a series of empirical studies on the notion of organizational effectiveness (Quinn & Rohrbaugh, 1983). The CVF highlights the trade-offs, tensions, contradictions, ambiguities, complexities and paradoxes inherent in organizations.

The framework comprises two dimensions that express the tensions or competing values that characterize all organizations in their efforts to achieve their mission and outcomes. One axis represents the continuum between flexibility - adaptability juxtaposed to stability - control. The other axis articulates the continuum between efficient internal focus, such as staff development practices or internal control systems, versus external positioning related to stakeholders such as competitors, community members and clients/customers. Each continuum highlights performance criteria that are opposite from that of the other end of the continuum, such as internal versus external orientation (horizontal axis) or flexibility versus control (vertical axis).


Opportunity for Nonprofits in Sangamon and Menard Counties

Forefront and United Way of Central Illinois are seeking to assist nonprofit organizations located within Sangamon and Menard counties in building their organizational capacity. Only organizations located within these two counties are eligible to submit a proposal.

This series is ideal for nonprofit professionals from entry-level staff to CEOs, who care about making an investment in their organization and the sector. The series is limited to 25 individuals.

Please note: Workshops are progressive and build upon each other. If you are not able to attend all of the workshops we suggest you do not register. (See Program Location and Dates section)

Session registration includes the full series of progressive workshops, one year membership to Forefront for the entire organization and access to the Impact Capacity Assessment Tool (iCAT), an assessment and planning tool that helps nonprofits better understand their organizational capacity based on direct input from those who know you best – your team and key stakeholders. Through an online survey, the iCAT collects anonymous input from your staff and board members on six research-based organizational capacities: Leading, Learning, Resource Generating, Planning, Managing, and Overseeing.

Program Description

Nonprofits will participate in a unique, hands-on course that will combine several different learning methods including self-assessments, case studies, role-plays, facilitator presentation, large and small group discussions, and application planning and activities.  Participants will have homework between each session to complete and discuss at the following session. Each course is designed to be three hours in length and offered every other week in the following order:

Workshop 1: Introduction to Nonprofit Organizational Capacity Building: An Overview

Workshop 2: Building Strategic Capacity

Workshop 3: Building Internal Process Capacity

Workshop 4: Building Human Capacity

Workshop 5: Building Innovation Capacity


Program Requirements:

This training will require participates to attend all five sessions. We do understand that things happen and unforeseen events may occur. However, it is strongly encouraged that participants do whatever is possible to commit to all five sessions.


Program Presenters:

Lorena Johnson is the Director for the Certified Public Manager Program of Illinois.  She has a M.A. in Communication and MPA from the University of Illinois – Springfield. Lorena has worked for over 20 years in the field of professional development providing leadership and outcome based management training and technical assistance to public sector and Nonprofit professionals and organizations across the state. Lorena is most proud of her 28 years of experience in the field of diversity and multicultural education working with public sector and Nonprofit organizations to create culturally inclusive workplaces.

Kimberly Wiley is an Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Management in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Illinois Springfield. She earned a PhD in Public Administration from Florida State University.  Kim brings with her thirteen years of nonprofit experience in the field of victim advocacy in local, state, and national organizations. After serving in multiple capacities in three domestic violence shelters in Florida, she joined the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the statewide administrative organization for Florida’s 42 certified domestic violence centers. She resides in Springfield with her husband and three daughters and enjoys exploring the area walking and hiking trails with her rambunctious dog.

Christine Westerlund is the Director of Professional Development for the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies.  She manages the Association’s Professional Development Institute (PDI), a multi-disciplined catalog of training and learning opportunities for the Illinois Community Action Network.   Christine has over thirty years of experience working with governmental entities and Nonprofit organizations as a researcher, grant writer, facilitator and trainer. She holds professional credentials in:  Master ROMA (results oriented management and accountability) Trainer, Family and Community Development Specialist, Community Action Professional (CCAP), Scenario Planning, Poverty Coaching, Beegle Gold Star Speaker, National Family Development Credential Instructor, Family Centered Coaching Instructor and is a national trainer for “A Framework for Understanding Poverty”. Christine is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University, President of the Chatham Area Public Library District Board of Trustees and an active volunteer in the Springfield community.


Program Location and Dates:

  • Before the Workshop:  Participants will be asked to read assigned articles that will be sent out a week before the first workshop.
  • Location of Workshops: University of Illinois, Springfield
  • Dates and Times of Workshops:  Workshops will be held every other Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on the following dates: September 14th, 28th; October 12th, 26th; and November 9th.   


Funding Guidelines

What organizations are eligible to apply?

Nonprofits located in Sangamon and Menard Counties in Illinois.

Is there a registration fee?

Yes, an organization must pay a registration fee of $50.

The rest of the cost is being underwritten by United Way of Central Illinois representing a total value to your organization of $290.

Will a Final Evaluation be required?



Selection Criteria

Those who are interested in applying must answer the following questions without exceeding two pages: 

  1.  Name of organization
  2.  Contact Information
  3.  Mission of organization
  4.  Why is this workshop series important to your organization
  5. I dentify the desired change(s) to the capacity of your organization after completing the series, and how it will strengthen your ability to fulfill your mission and have greater impact
  6. Who from your organization will be participating in the training and why


Important Dates

Application Announced

Grant Application Due

Decision Announced

August 2, 2018

August 15, 2018

August 20, 2018

Final Evaluation

A Final Evaluation must be submitted by the organization after the completion of the workshop series. In the Final Evaluation, the organization will be asked to provide feedback on the overall series, instructors, and content. Additionally, participants will be asked a series of questions evaluating their understanding of organizational capacity.

Interested in Applying

Nonprofits that are interested in applying are asked to submit their responses to the questions listed under the Selection Criteria Section to Sarah Tapscott at stapscott@myforefront.org by August 15, 2018.



Feel free to contact Sarah Tapscott at stapscott@myforefront.org or 217-572-1866.  

For additional information on Forefront www.myforefront.org

For additional information on United Way of Central Illinois www.springfieldunitedway.org


About Forefront

Forefront builds a vibrant social impact sector for all the people of Illinois. Forefront is the nation’s only statewide membership association for nonprofits, grant makers, public agencies, advisors, and our allies. We provide education, advocacy, thought leadership, and facilitate collective action around issues that are important to our Members and to the sector.

About United Way of Central Illinois

Founded in 1922, United Way of Central Illinois fights for the Basic Needs, Education, Financial Stability, and Health of every person in their community. They do this by bringing together people, businesses, and organizations from all across the community who bring the passion, expertise and resources needed to tackle their community’s toughest challenges.