Funding the Spirit of Collaboration
Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits offers resources to get organizations working together.December 2010 BY Heather Fletcher
Collaboration is a catalyst for nonprofit growth and improvement. And the newly formed Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits was created to help foster that collaboration.
At the end of October, the Boston-based fund began accepting applications from nonprofits seeking help with the collaboration process and soon should be distributing funds from pooled resources provided by The Boston Foundation, Boston LISC, the Hyams Foundation, and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.
William Pinakiewicz is the New England director for the Nonprofit Finance Fund — the organization that manages the Catalyst Fund; NFF Associate Peter Kramer manages the fund's day-to-day operations. They talked recently with FundRaising Success.
FundRaising Success: What is the Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits?
Peter Kramer: The Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits is a funder collaborative that's been set up over the next five years to provide support for technical assistance engagements [which] means that we're developing a pool of technical assistance providers — consultants and technical experts, people from the legal field, from the accounting world — who can bring their expertise to bear on things like feasibility planning, implementation planning and actual implementation to support nonprofit collaborations.
FS: Who determines what criteria are involved for funding?
PK: Nonprofits who already have some idea of how they want to collaborate and have put in some of the thought and laid some of the groundwork will submit applications and proposals for work that they want to explore and ways they want to engage with technical-assistance providers. So we as a fund are not necessarily determining which charities should be working together; that's coming to us. The criteria involved are a few things: The fund is interested in supporting four mission areas initially — arts and culture, community development, human services, and youth development. So the organizations must fit into one of those mission areas. They must be located in the Boston area, and they must complete a thoughtful application to the fund. And what that entails is demonstrating that there's board buy-in, that they've had some of these conversations, that they can articulate the plan and articulate, also, intended outcomes from the proposed collaboration.