Nonprofits that are intentional about cultivating organizational resilience are better at anticipating and adapting to the disruption, uncertainty, and significant change that are a constant in our world. There is no one recipe for resilience. Context matters – a lot. And, adapting to disruption and uncertainty will never be a linear journey. Resilience is a way of being, not an end destination. This is a reality many nonprofits know well. However, it’s a point less readily acknowledged by funders and, even less, a topic for open discussion among funders and their grantees.

The Resiliency Guide is designed to help funders and nonprofits engage in candid dialogue about the complex, turbulent environments nonprofits operate in, and to reflect on organizational strengths as well as areas that may benefit from attention. As a tool for grantmakers, it can prompt new thinking about where, when, and how to invest in capacity building.

The Guide was originally developed in 2014 by the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, which, as a limited-life foundation, had an especially strong interest in helping nonprofits develop the resilience to thrive long beyond its 2020 sunset. In the years since, the Guide has been through several iterations as our understanding of resilience has evolved.

This version represents Foundation leadership’s latest thinking, informed by findings from Resilience at Work, a study of resilience published in spring 2020. The Guide will benefit from refinement based on lessons learned through use, and we invite readers to share their feedback on this tool by end of October 2020. Email comments to effectiveness@sdbjrfoundation.org.

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Capacity Building: Why, When, and How

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