Capacity Building Grant

Capacity Building Grant


The Ausherman Family Foundation provides the Capacity Building Grant Program to assist nonprofit organizations in achieving new levels of effectiveness. Capacity Building Grant applications are accepted twice a year.

Capacity Building Grant due dates are January 15 and July 15.

Only organizations located in Frederick County, Maryland, are eligible to receive a Capacity Building Grant. An organization may receive only one Capacity Building Grant every 12 months.

Capacity Building Grants may be awarded with or without a challenge matching fund component. Please review the information below to determine if your request fits the Foundation’s grant criteria.

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Capacity Building Grants

The purpose of Capacity Building Grant funding is to strengthen the leadership and management of Frederick County’s nonprofit organizations by helping the organizations find resources (consultants) and build systems needed to achieve goals. An organization must have in place strong leadership, both staff and Board members, as well as the financial ability to move forward with the consultants' recommendations. Grants may be awarded to:

  • Planning activities: e.g., organizational assessments, strategic planning, fund raising assessment and development, program evaluations, communications/ marketing, or business planning.
  • Board and leadership development: may include activities such as leadership training, defining the role of the board, strengthening governance, assistance with executive transition, succession, and search process.
  • Strategic Relationships:  providing technical assistance / consultant support to help two or more organizations work through collaboration and strategic restructuring; positioning for merger or affiliation; or business planning for social enterprise.
  • Internal operations: improvements to financial management, internal controls and chart of accounts, human resource or volunteer management; or facility planning.
  • Technology Improvements: IT capacity through upgrades to hardware and software, networking, websites, and staff training to optimize the use of technology.

The grant award will pay for the grant recipient to hire a qualified consultant to facilitate the organization’s progress in achieving the goals set forth in the grant proposal.

Ausherman Family Foundation staff members will provide a list of consultants upon request. Grant seekers must vet at least three potential consultants before choosing one. Consultants do not have to be from the Foundation’s list. Once the organization chooses a consultant, AFF requests that they explain why the consultant was the best choice.

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Capacity Building Grant Program with a Challenge/Matching Fund Component

Capacity Building Grants that include a challenge to raise matching funds may be awarded to address any of the issues mentioned above. This grant award requires that matching funds be raised before Foundation funds are disbursed.

Challenge grants that require the raising of matching funds are one way the Foundation leads others to give. In particular, the goal of a challenge matching grant is to encourage board members and staff to support the organization and to tease out new donors and new contributions to the organization.

The Foundation’s Trustees may allow limited time in which the grant recipient organization can raise matching funds. The Foundation’s Trustees may also limit the funding pool; that is, in-kind, pledges, and government funding cannot count as matching funds. Donations from other Foundations may not be allowed as matching funds.

The Trustees set the matching funds parameters. Every grant award may have different parameters. Matching fund parameters are detailed in the Grants Covenant to which each grant recipient must agree.

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Areas of Interest Defined

The Ausherman Family Foundation awards grants to nonprofit organizations that fit into the following Areas of Interest: Children, Youth & Families; Health & Human Services; Arts & Culture and Public Society Benefit. For an expanded definition of these areas or a list of areas not included, please click here.

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Eligibility Criteria

Organizations that meet the eligibility criteria for Ausherman Family Foundation grants will:

  • Have a clearly defined mission that falls into one of Foundation’s Areas of Interest
  • Exhibit readiness and ability to expand its budget and operations
  • Have a healthy operating budget
  • Have committed staff members who are open to change and believe that capacity building will further the agency’s mission
  • Resolve to commit the time and resources to capacity building
  • Have a Board of Directors that sees the need for training/program enhancement
  • Have tax exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code
  • Be located in Frederick County, Maryland.

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Further Guidelines

  1. The Ausherman Family Foundation makes Capacity Building grants of up to $25,000 with the intention of strengthening the management and leadership of grantee organizations.

  2. Even if an organization has received funding from the Foundation in the past, a review of the guidelines is requested. Please complete a new Letter of Inquiry for each new request.

  3. An organization must be physically located in Frederick County, Maryland, to be considered for a Capacity Grant.

  4. Funding is limited. Not every request will be funded and not every request may be fully funded.

  5. There must be evidence  the grant will contribute to long-term organizational effectiveness rather than serving a short-term, band-aid solution.

  6. The capacity and willingness of the organization to implement recommendations resulting from management assistance is essential.

  7. The proposal submitted should demonstrate an ability to limit the request to an Area of Interest of the Ausherman Family Foundation as noted above.

  8. Organizations should have the desire and leadership to cover any costs associated with fulfilling the consultant’s recommendations.

  9. Organizations should have the financial ability to cover any costs associated with fulfilling the consultant’s recommendations.


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Non Eligibility Guidelines

It is not appropriate to apply for a Capacity Building Grant if:

  • The board and staff do not agree outside management assistance is needed.
  • The need is not within the areas of executive and board leadership, planning and assessment, or financial management.
  • Additional permanent staff member(s) are needed to resolve a management problem.
  • The organization is seeking financial support for a fundraising campaign.
  • The need is to finance the cost of an audit.
  • The amount of funding needed is less than $2,500.

Note: Operational expenses are not funded under the Capacity Building Program Guidelines. See the general grants program for information about awards to fund operational expenses.

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Grant Cycles

  1. The Foundation accepts Letters of Inquiry (LOI) on or before January 15 and July 15.

  2. Grant awards range from $2,500 to $25,000.

  3. Phase I Letters of Inquiry are due by January 15 and July 15.

  4. Phase II timelines are determined once an organization successfully completes the Phase I cycle.

  5. Organizations successfully completing Phase I will be visited by the Foundation’s staff, perhaps accompanied by a Foundation Trustee.

  6. Further instructions on completing a formal proposal, which is Phase II of the process, will be provided after the site visit should the Trustees decide to move forward with the formal grant process.

  7. Applicants have nine months to complete the scope of work outlined in the grant request.

  8. Applicants are eligible to receive one capacity building grant per 12-month period.

  9. The grant covers the cost of hiring a consultant and may include a small amount of funds for administrative costs and implementation of findings.

  10. Funding for regular operational expenses such as audits and additional staff are not included in the scope of the grant program.

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How to Apply

  1. All Ausherman Family Foundation Letters of Inquiry (LOI) and applications are submitted using an online process.

  2. The Capacity Building Grant process is completed in two phases.

  3. Phase I is the submission of an online Letter of Inquiry with supporting documents.

  4. Organizations approved through Phase I receive a site visit by the Executive Director and a Trustee.

  5. Phase II is the submission of a formal grant application, review of the application by the full Board of Trustees, and approval or denial of the request.

  6. Phase II, completion of the formal grant application, requires the collection of three proposals from consultants that address the completion of the objectives outlined in the grant application. Grant seekers explain why the consultant was chosen.

  7. Preview our LOI , or submit an LOI by clicking on Grant Process.

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Review Process

  1. The Ausherman Family Foundation’s Executive Director reviews the Letter of Inquiry.

  2. An email response from the Director alerts you that your LOI was received. AFF staff may contact you by phone or email to request additional information.

  3. The Executive Committee reviews the LOI and determines if the request is forwarded to the full Board for review.

  4. If the request fits within the Foundation’s funding constraints, a Foundation staff member schedules a site visit or meeting with the Ausherman Family Foundation’s Director and Trustee(s), as well as any key Board and staff members of the grant seeker’s organization to discuss the grant request and learn more about the organization.

  5. The Foundation’s staff member advises you whether or not to submit a formal application.

  6. Phase II, completion of the formal grant application, requires the selection of a consultant, development of a work plan, and preparation of a project budget.

  7. The request by the Foundation for a formal grant application does not guarantee funding of the request.

  8. Should the Foundation approve the formal grant request, a staff member will notify your organization.

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Grant Award Process

  1. Nonprofit organizations that receive a grant award from the Ausherman Family Foundation are asked to:

    1. Sign a Grant Covenant/Agreement

      1. Capacity building Grants have the following requirements:

        The grantee will inform the Ausherman Family Foundation about the anticipated date the organization has set to provide an update on the planning stages by highlighting the intentions and progress of the project. That date becomes the due date for Report 1. This report briefly describes the organization's forward movement toward completion of the outcomes.

        Report 2 will be due six to 12 months after the first due date. The second report further explains forward movement toward completion of the outcomes. A copy of the consultant's report must be attached to this report. The report should address the intended outcomes identified by the agreement between the organization and the consultant.

        Report 3 will be due approximately one year after the second due date. The third report explains the project results, how the capacity building funding made a difference in the organization, and if the grant outcomes were met.


  2. Grants are made to organizations and not to consultants. Any Consultant report to the Ausherman Family Foundation should be made through the director or president of the board of the organization receiving the grant.

  3. The grantee is responsible for signing the contract with and paying the consultant.

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Contact Information

If you have questions after reviewing the information above or trouble accessing the online grant process, contact Leigh Adams, Director, by calling 301-620-4443 or emailing

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