“A grassroots nonprofit is an organization that is funded mostly by individual donors and small gifts from corporate sponsors” [i]
I have always believed grassroots nonprofits are important to the wellness of individuals, families and communities. I’ve been fortunate in my career to serve in many different roles. During my tenure as Grant Administrator with the United Way of Broward County, I was proud we provided resources to grassroots nonprofit agencies. Their reach, commitment and longevity in the community are difficult to match, especially with resources that support their mission. My team and I managed over 30 grantees, almost $2 million in federal block grants, with 30% of those grantees being grassroots nonprofits.
In my experience, the best route toward grantee success was supporting those agencies above and beyond the funding. Intentionally position organizations for increased capacity building, sustainability, and programmatic success.
Our strategy and commitment at United Way were unwavering because we understood the value grassroots agencies bring to marginalized communities. We instituted post-award training and technical support programs for all our grantees. We believed those strategies contributed to the programmatic success and fostered opportunities for grantees to receive future funding.
Grassroots nonprofits are important because they’re aware of trends, challenges and community needs faster and often more accurately than mid-to-large sized agencies. Grassroots nonprofits have their ears to the ground, making it easier to identify challenges and create innovative real-time solutions. Grassroots nonprofit organizations typically are…
- first point of contact for individuals and families
- a mainstay, connected to the community, enabling them to build relationships of trust and respect
- first responders and quick to stand alongside the community when in need
- initiates change in their community by organizing neighborhood groups to facilitate: needs assessment, vision development and strategic planning
In closing, I would argue a fully funded and operationally sound grassroots nonprofit can do innovative and phenomenal work to improve the overall wellness of a community. These organizations are resilient and make a difference in the lives of individuals and families. Many of those families faced difficult challenges this year. As you consider an end-of-year gift, a grassroots nonprofit agency and the families they serve could always use your financial support. A little bit goes a long way in helping agencies continue providing needed programs and services.
[i] “Grassroot Definition & Meaning.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grassroot.