Building institutions and networks
Our Building Institutions and Networks (BUILD) initiative is a grantmaking approach focused on helping social justice organizations become stronger and more resilient over time. By providing grantees with five years of general operating support, combined with targeted organizational strengthening support, BUILD aims to equip these organizations with the strategic clarity, people, knowledge, and resources they need to achieve impact and advance systems change over the course of years and decades.
Now more than five years in, we are proud to release the BUILD developmental evaluation report, which affirms what we’ve long held: that multiyear, unrestricted funding combined with dedicated institutional development leads to stronger, more resilient organizations of all structures, sectors, and sizes—and deeper connections to the communities they serve.
Watch our video to learn how BUILD works.
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At the Ford Foundation, we know that inequality limits the potential of all people everywhere. It’s at the root of nearly every social problem, and there is no quick fix. That’s why it’s essential to invest in organizations and networks that are working to reduce inequality over the long term.
So what do organizations and networks need to build a sturdy foundation for their work?
Clear strategic goals and a plan to achieve them. Effective and diverse leadership and staff, and efficient systems that make their work possible. And steady, flexible funding so organizations can become more resilient and have the tools they need to respond to unexpected challenges and seize moments of opportunity.
With these critical building blocks in place, organizations and networks can grow stronger and fight inequality for years to come.
But devoting resources to these areas can be quite a challenge for nonprofit organizations, often operating with shoestring budgets. That’s why the Ford Foundation is inviting up to 300 organizations and networks to join BUILD, a $1 billion initiative that gives them the trust, flexibility, and additional support they need to do their best work.
So how does BUILD do that?
Let’s take the example of an organization working on women’s economic justice. Every day, they are focused on addressing urgent needs in the field, like providing legal support in employment discrimination cases and advocating for fair wages. The organization is focusing all of its resources to attend to these realities and sometimes
can’t afford to take the long view. BUILD offers flexible, multiyear funding, giving the organization the support it needs to plan for the long term. We provide tools to help the organization assess its strengths and weaknesses and figure out where it can improve. And we provide additional funding so the organization can invest in a plan of action to get there. In this case, that might mean strengthening their communications and technology. It might also mean expanding their work into new issues and places, amplifying their impact. We connect them to other organizations doing similar work, so that peers can learn from each other and grow stronger together.
In the process, we help organizations evaluate what’s working and what could be improved, ensuring that they always have what they really need. Throughout, the organization is always in the driver’s seat, determining their own priorities and the best ways forward. We hope this strengthens not only these organizations but their broader fields and movements around the world, all on the way to making a real difference in reducing inequality.
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