For nearly 20 years, the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association has connected neighborhood groups working to improve the quality of life for Asylum Hill residents, employees, worshippers and stakeholders. The Association has worked closely with local institutions like Aetna, The Hartford, Saint Francis Hospital and Asylum Hill Congregational Church as well as local policymakers on efforts to address many issues impacting residents and businesses alike.
Like many small nonprofit organizations that lack substantial funding sources, Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association relies on just one part-time staff person and its dedicated board and volunteers to organize, promote and communicate key initiatives and issues of concern to residents and policymakers.
The Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association will join eleven other small nonprofit organizations to participate in the Hartford Foundation’s “Building on Success” program, a new two-year initiative designed to combine capacity building support and small grants to small nonprofits. Building on Success includes quarterly group learning sessions, individual organizational consultation, and grant support. Each organization that fully participates in the program will be awarded a total of $10,000, over two years.
The Building on Success program is tailored to meet the needs of small nonprofit organizations that have limited knowledge of and access to capacity building resources. The program’s goals are to: assist participating organizations in understanding current capabilities and areas for future development; strengthen areas of greatest need; learn and apply information about important nonprofit management functions; develop a strategic plan; and fund mission related projects.
“While the Association has made great strides in supporting our residents in their efforts to advocate on behalf of themselves and their neighborhood, our lack of staff and reliable funding have always made this work extremely challenging,” said Yvonne Matthews, chair of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association’s board. “We are always looking for ways to improve our organizational leadership structure, better utilize our dedicated volunteers and maximize fundraising opportunities.”
The twelve nonprofit organizations participating in the Building on Success Program are:
Of the estimated 2,750 public charities operating in Greater Hartford, approximately 2,100, like those participating in this program, have annual revenues below $200,000. Because of their modest size and structure, obtaining financial support from government and philanthropic funders can be incredibly difficult. In response to this situation, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving spent a year researching how Greater Hartford’s community foundation could provide support for these small, but vital community nonprofit organizations. The Foundation determined that small organizations need assistance in the areas of financial stability and operating supports; leadership, governance and organizational development; assessment, planning and evaluation; collaboration, as well as community and volunteer engagement.
“The Foundation has long struggled with the question of expanding support for small nonprofit organizations,” said Judy Rozie-Battle, senior vice president for community investments at the Hartford Foundation. “While no definitive answer or approach was established, the question persisted in the form of ongoing requests from small agencies and feedback. The Building on Success program will support under-served organizations by strengthening their capacity to better serve the community and help them build a track-record with the Foundation while strengthening the Foundation’s own relationships at the local level. This is an example of the Hartford Foundation’s strategic focus on strengthening the region’s nonprofit sector by initiating new and innovative programming for developing organizations.”
Each organization in the Building On Success program will be assigned an organizational consultant at the onset of the program. Initially, the consultant and each participating organization will complete an organizational assessment. This organizational assessment will be the basis of future work with the consultant. Projected benefits of the Building On Success program include an increase in the number of stable and healthy small nonprofit organizations that provide valued services to the Greater Hartford community and increased support to citizens that participate generously and confidently in the life of their community as volunteers, board members, and donors with small nonprofit organizations.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding towns. In 2015, the Foundation celebrated ninety years of grantmaking in the Greater Hartford region, made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations. It has awarded grants of more than $650 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.