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 organizational needs.  ACT has invested more than $1,000,000 in capacity building grants to Alexandria nonprofits since 2005. 

ACT is making some exciting changes to our capacity building grant program for 2019, including a new approach to our grantmaking and expanded funding priorities. 


2019 Deadlines & Timeline:
  • August 19 Letter of Inquiry (LOI) Application is available.  Applications are submitted online through Foundant, our grants management system.  Click here to access the system.
  • September 5 Info Session to learn about Capacity Building Grants.  RSVP here -
  • September 20LOI Deadline
  • October 28 Invitation to Interview
  • Week of November 11Nonprofit Interviews
  • December 6Deadline to submit Grant Agreement
  • December 16 Grants Awarded


Capacity Building Grant FAQ’s

What is capacity building?  
Capacity building is not just about the capacity of a nonprofit today – it’s about the nonprofit’s ability to deliver its mission effectively now, and in the future, ultimately enhancing the nonprofit’s ability to have a positive impact on lives and the community.  Capacity building is an investment in the effectiveness and future sustainability of a nonprofit.  For more information about capacity building, please visit The National Council of Nonprofits -

What are the funding priorities for 2019?  
ACT will accept grant applications to support the following areas – see table below. 
We encourage you to contact ACT with any questions about your proposed project.




Plan development, plan revision/update, board and staff strategy retreats, etc. Training on racial equity, racial equity audit, racial equity plan development, etc. Training on effective community engagement, movement building and community organizing, creation of community advisory boards, constituent service/satisfaction surveys and/or focus groups, planning for 2020 Census outreach efforts, etc. 

Who is eligible to apply? 
Nonprofit organizations with current 501(c)3 status serving Alexandria are eligible to apply.  We will be funding organizations whose projects benefit Alexandria.  We encourage you to contact ACT with any questions about your proposal.

How much grant funding is available? 
ACT will be awarding $70,000 in grant funding for 2019.  In addition, ACT will share LOIs with ACT Donor Advised Fund holders through our Side-by-Side Investing Program.  Side-by-Side Investors will be invited to support nonprofits directly based on the LOIs.

What is the typical grant award? 
Organizations may apply for grants of up to $15,000.  Last year ACT awarded 8 grants.  The average award was $10,000.  We encourage you to contact ACT with any questions about your proposal.     

What is different about the process?  
ACT is taking a different approach to grantmaking this year.  We are adopting a trust-based approach to our philanthropy.  We are attempting to remove burdens from the nonprofits by eliminating some of the paperwork and reporting requirements.  We are also interested in working with you to develop and support your project.  Rather than submitting a fully finalized project, the LOI will focus on your vision and rationale for the proposed investment in your capacity.  We want to understand what questions you seek to answer and what you hope to learn as a result of the proposed project.  Your LOI could feature profiles of different consultants you are considering and preliminary ideas you have about project deliverables.  Instead of submitting a final grant application, nonprofits will participate in an interview/conversation with the review committee to discuss their project. 

In light of our commitment to equity, we are exploring a trust-based approach to grantmaking that breaks down the traditional power dynamic between funder and grantee and begins to create a collaborative environment that supports listening, learning.  We believe it will enable ACT to be more nimble and responsive to needs that arise.  This is a pilot and we are learning too so we welcome your feedback and questions.

What does the interview entail? 
The interview will serve as more of a conversation with the review committee to discuss and think through the approach to the project and how ACT can support your organization. 

If awarded a grant, when and how will the nonprofit receive it? 
Awards will be announced on December 16, with funding awarded before the end of 2019.

What kind of reporting is required once the organization receives a grant? 
Rather than complete a written report, ACT will set up a time to meet with the grantee for a conversation about the project and the organization’s learnings.  Grantees may also be asked to share their learnings at an Ask the Grantees session and/or small group of similarly funded project grantees.   

How can I learn more? 
ACT is hosting an Info Session on September 5 (9am – 10am at AEDP, 625 N. Washington Street, Suite 400) to share about the capacity building grants and the Learning Lab (pilot racial equity cohort program).  RSVP here:

If you have any questions about the Capacity Building Grant Process, please contact Brandi Yee at or 703-739-7778.

For more information from the philanthropy field about trust-based philanthropy, please see: