I was speaking to a recent graduate of the University of San Diego who wants to land a job in the Foundation world -- the challenge is she hasn't had much luck landing her first job. She's super talented, already has interned in a nonprofit along with earning her Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership from American Humanics...the only problem is, few foundations are hiring entry level positions.
It was great to see her excitement in wanting to change the world. Then I thought back to the 7 long years I have been working in the nonprofit sector :) and what would I do if took a different route in my career. What would I do if I worked in foundations and what I would do if I were a Foundation officer?
If I were a Foundation officer I (and my staff) would do needs assessments within nonprofits to identify which capacity issues were present to maintain the nonprofits' current programs. Then I would fund each nonprofit for 5 years (at least $100k or more per year) in order for them to hire, train, and support staff to maintain their current programs. I would also fund operations and any other administrative and support needs to run the current programs. Then I (and my staff) would do more consulting within the organizations on management and leadership issues along with overseeing the strategic planning process. Furthermore, after 5 years the nonprofits may be eligible for additional funding for program expansion based on the results of the strategic plan and the progress made during the previous 5 years they spent building their capacity to do their current programs. If the organization received additional money for program expansion, I would also fund program evaluations.
So I'm not a program officer -- However, I have completed numerous grant applications and proposals to keep organizations running as well as I consult start up nonprofits on setting up their operations, so I'm quite biased on building capacity within nonprofits, but I'm curious...what would you do if you were a Foundation officer?
For more information on general operating support and capacity building funding. Check out Grantmakers for Effective Organizations.