ACT for Alexandria

Capacity Building

ACT for Alexandria (ACT) is a community foundation that supports and encourages nonprofit excellence and strengthens leadership within nonprofits by investing in infrastructure based programs and organizational needs.  ACT has invested nearly $1 Million Dollars in capacity building grants to Alexandria nonprofits since 2005.  To see a list of current and past grantees, click here. 

The Performance Imperative framework and conversations during the Listening & Learning Tour have helped inform the funding priorities for our Capacity Building Grants.  We will be focusing on funding requests for: 

  • Strategic Planning
  • Pillar 1 – Courageous, Adaptive Executive and Board Leadership (board coaching, development, governance, recruitment, training, succession planning, etc.)
  • Pillar 4 – Financial Health & Sustainability (fund development planning)

ACT is interested in creating cohorts of learning communities based on each funding priority so organizations can learn from one another and ACT can share these best practices with other nonprofits and the donor community. 

Capacity Building Grant FAQ’s

How do I apply?

The application will be available on July 30, 2018. All applications must be submitted online through Foundant, our grants management system.  For a quick tutorial on how to use Foundant, click here.  

How much grant funding is available?

ACT will be awarding $75,000 in grant funding for 2018.  In addition, ACT will be seeking additional funding from ACT Donor Advised Fund holders and other donors to supplement our investment, which may allow us to make additional grant awards. 

What is the typical grant award?

Organizations may apply for grants of up to $15,000.  The range for proposals is typically $5,000 - $15,000, with the average grant award being $10,000. 

If we have more than one concept for a grant, what is the best way to submit ideas and receive feedback?

Please contact Brandi Yee, Chief Program Officer, at to discuss your request ideas. 

What is the Performance Imperative and what are the Seven Pillars of High Performance?

The Performance Imperative is a framework for nonprofit excellence.  High Performance is the ability to deliver – over a prolonged period of time – meaningful, measurable, and financially sustainable results for the people or causes the organizations is in existence to serve. The Seven Pillars include: 

1.      Courageous, adaptive executive and board leadership

2.      Disciplined, people-focused management

3.      Well-designed and well-implemented programs and strategies

4.      Financial health and sustainability

5.      A culture that values learning

6.      Internal monitoring for continuous improvement

7.      External evaluation for mission effectiveness

Note:  We recognize that even the most exemplary high-performance organizations do not excel in all seven pillars equally or simultaneously. 

What is the Performance Imperative Organizational Self-Assessment (PIOSA)?

The PIOSA is not an external evaluation tool, nor it is a one-time litmus or a “one and done” exercise.  You are encouraged to use it as a means of self-reflection you can use periodically to help drive organizational learning and improvement.  You can access the PIOSA here and click on PIOSA Workbook to complete the self-assessment. 

If our organization does not yet have a 501(c)(3) ruling from the IRS, but has applied for one, can we apply for a grant from ACT?
No. ACT can only accept applications from organizations that have already received tax exemption status from the IRS.

Our organization operates under a fiscal sponsor. May we apply for a grant? 
Yes, groups with a fiscal sponsor arrangement may apply for funding. Please make a note of this information in your application. 

If awarded a grant, when and how will we receive it?
Along with an award letter and report guidelines, the first installment of the grant award will be presented to the organization at a board meeting, date to be scheduled with ACT and the organization within 45 days.  You will be asked to complete a grant agreement in Foundant prior to receiving the grant award.

How do we report on our grant?
Your award letter will include reporting dates and guidelines for required narrative and financial reports. The timely submission of a mid-year and final report is an important part of the grant process. All reports should be submitted online by logging into your ACT Foundant account.

What should we do if we can't meet the deadline for submitting our mid-year or final report?
Submission of the mid-year report is required for the 2nd installment of the grant award.  The timely submission of a final report is an important part of the grant process. Please contact us if you believe you will not be able to submit your final report in a timely manner.

If you have specific questions or need technical assistance, please email or call 703-739-7778.