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Elevating environmental activism through capacity building

Elevating environmental activism through capacity building - cover-min
Grantmakers and foundations are acutely aware of the urgency of supporting organizations addressing the monumental challenges of environmental degradation, climate change, and conservation. As these challenges continue to intensify, so too does the need for robust, effective nonprofit environmental organizations dedicated to addressing them. However, many of these environmental conservation nonprofits, particularly those working at the grassroots level, often lack the resources to scale their impact.
This is where capacity building comes into play. Capacity building refers to activities that improve an organization's ability to achieve its mission and sustain its operations over time. For climate change nonprofits and environmental conservation nonprofits, this means equipping them with the skills, strategies, and support needed to deliver meaningful outcomes in their communities. Investing in capacity building is not just a philanthropic buzzword, but a critical strategy for ensuring nonprofits are well-positioned to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time.

The critical role of capacity building

Capacity building plays a crucial role in creating organizations that are resilient, sustainable, and responsive to the needs of their communities. It ensures that organizations are set up for long-term success and can focus effectively on their mission. 

Why is capacity building important?

  1. Strengthening core operations: Many not-for-profit environmental organizations, especially smaller grassroots organizations, struggle with basic operational challenges, such as strategic planning, fundraising, and technology adoption. By strengthening these core functions, organizations can operate more efficiently and effectively.
  2. Expanding program impact: When nonprofits streamline their operations and improve their internal capacities, they are better equipped to design, deliver, and evaluate impactful programs. This leads to a broader reach and deeper engagement in the communities they serve.
  3. Sustaining financial health: Diverse funding streams, robust financial management, and strategic fundraising efforts can help climate change nonprofits achieve financial sustainability, enabling them to weather economic downturns and funding uncertainties.
  4. Enhancing advocacy and collaboration: Capacity building allows nonprofits to develop stronger advocacy strategies and build strategic partnerships, which are critical for influencing environmental policies and driving systemic change.

Translating capacity building into environmental outcomes

Elevating environmental activism through capacity building - 1-min

Investing in capacity building directly translates to improved environmental outcomes in several ways:

  1. Increased program efficacy: Organizations can amplify their conservation programs, educational outreach, and climate advocacy efforts by enhancing internal systems and skills.
  2. Sustainable growth: Nonprofits can expand their reach to underserved communities and regions, increasing the overall impact of their environmental work.
  3. Policy influence: Capacity building helps nonprofits build strategic partnerships and advocacy efforts that lead to policy changes benefiting environmental health.
  4. Innovation and adaptability: Organizations can better adapt to emerging environmental challenges and innovate new solutions when they are agile and well-equipped.

Catchafire: A capacity building tool for environmental nonprofits

Elevating environmental activism through capacity building - 2-min

Catchafire is a powerful capacity-building resource designed to help nonprofits thrive by connecting them with skilled volunteers who provide pro bono project support. Our global network of volunteers assists nonprofits, particularly small, grassroots organizations, in various critical areas, including strategic planning, marketing, fundraising, and technology implementation.

Key features of Catchafire's platform:

  1. Global network of skilled volunteers: Our network includes professionals from diverse industries ready to offer their expertise virtually and in person in several ways: Quick Advise through written answers, one-hour consultation calls, full-length projects, and nonprofit board service. 
  2. Customized support: Nonprofits can find volunteer experts for specific projects like strategic planning, financial modeling, grant writing, and website development.
  3. Time and cost savings: By leveraging volunteer support, nonprofits save significant time and money that can be redirected toward their programs and mission.
  4. Increased impact: The operational efficiencies and strategic enhancements achieved through capacity building allow nonprofits to focus more on advancing their environmental goals.

“Catchafire gave us access to a top-notch designer which saved us thousands of dollars.  It allowed us to put the money saved toward completing public access projects on our nature preserves, which have provided invaluable outdoor recreation opportunities for our community.”

Pam B., Donor Stewardship & Communications Manager
Legacy Land Conservancy


Impact of Catchafire's platform on environmental nonprofits

Elevating environmental activism through capacity building - 3-min

Catchafire has supported over 1,100 environmental nonprofits in expanding their capacity and impact. Our platform enables these organizations to tackle operational challenges while focusing on their primary mission: protecting the environment.


"Catchafire helps to provide scalable and quantifiable capacity building
support to our grantees, quickly and consistently connecting those
organizations with skilled volunteers from our audience and employee base."

Sam Murch, Action Works Program Manager


Over the last six years, we’ve partnered with Patagonia to provide grassroots activists and organizations with the capacity building resources and support they need. As part of the partnership, volunteers on Catchafire have created close to $15 million in impact in support of 560 grassroots organizations. To date, Patagonia has seen 6.5 times its return on investment (ROI)! We’re excited to continue to grow our collective impact in support of grassroots organizations.


“Catchafire has provided Ocean Blue with access to amazing professionals who are willing and ready to help us move forward with our mission. Without Catchafire and Patagonia's help this year, we would not have made such a difference for our One World Ocean because we were able to focus on implementing impact-oriented projects instead of trying to figure out how to do things we aren't already skilled at doing.”

Karisa A., Development Director
Ocean Blue Project


How grantmakers can leverage Catchafire for capacity building

Grantmakers and foundations play a crucial role in strengthening the environmental nonprofit sector. By supporting capacity building through Catchafire, funders can:

  1. Provide tailored support: Identify specific capacity needs of their grantees and match them with appropriate volunteer projects on Catchafire's platform.
  2. Foster peer learning: Encourage grantees to share their experiences, successes, and learnings through Catchafire projects, fostering a supportive community of practice.
  3. Co-invest in capacity building: Pool resources with other grantmakers to fund cohort-based capacity-building initiatives that support multiple nonprofits working in similar environmental areas.
  4. Measure and showcase impact: Use Catchafire's reporting tools to track the time and financial value of volunteer support, demonstrating the impact of capacity-building investments.
  5. Create sustainable partnerships: Establish long-term partnerships between grantees and Catchafire volunteers, enabling continuous support and growth.


Partner with Catchafire

Capacity building is essential for nonprofits working in environmental protection, conservation, and climate change. It equips them with the skills, strategies, and systems needed to advance their missions and expand their impact. By investing in these nonprofits through Catchafire, grantmakers and foundations can support a more resilient, effective, and impactful environmental nonprofit sector.

Request a demo today to learn more about partnering with Catchafire.


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