The New Normal: Capacity Building During a Time of Disruption

From Open Impact

Authors: Adene Sacks, Heather McLeod Grant, and Kate Wilkinson

How is the current economic and political environment impacting the capacity building needs of social-change leaders, nonprofits, networks, and movements? How are funders responding to these changing needs, and how can they better support this work going forward? 

The New Normal report

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This report explores these questions and makes recommendations for how philanthropy can better support social change during a time of upheaval. Informed by conversations with 21 nonprofit and philanthropy leaders, and supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the report takes a closer look at the impact of the 2016 U.S. election and its aftermath on the social sector. Before the election, the social sector was already expanding the definition of “capacity building” to include organizational effectiveness, along with bolstering nonprofit leaders, networks, and movements. But the new administration’s policies threaten to undermine decades of work on issues like immigration, women’s rights, civil rights, and the environment. Combined with cuts to social services and a tax bill that decreases incentives for giving, the social sector and civil society are now facing a disruption of yet unknown proportions. 

The report explores what nonprofits are struggling with now, what they need to be effective, and how philanthropy can better respond to their current needs.