Theory of change

Social justice organizations and networks are on the frontlines of accelerating and sustaining social change and building more just and equitable systems. They face well-funded and well-organized opposition, yet often lack flexible funding or reserves to innovate, learn, take risks, and develop their work for the long term. The restrictive funding practices of many foundations contribute to this problem, preventing organizations from investing in strengthening areas that are vital to their impact—strategic vision and clarity, leadership, management systems, and financial stability, to name a few.

We believe that funders can do more to help social justice organizations become more durable, more resilient, more effectively networked with each other, and better able to enact real change over time.

Growing impact

Radar chart demonstrating growing impact.

BUILD aims to strengthen the resilience of civil society organizations and networks in the US and around the world so that they are able to grow their impact and further move the needle on inequality. By the end of 2027, we seek to achieve the following medium-term outcomes:

  • BUILD grantee partners demonstrably increase their resilience in at least one core area of their choosing: people (leadership and board development; diversity, equity and inclusion; organizational culture; talent management); strategy (mission clarity and coherence; organizational learning; adaptive strategy; network building); finances (financial management, operating reservices, fundraising); systems (physical and digital security; information technology; communications; legal compliance).
  • BUILD grantee partners rely upon their increased resilience as they expand and/or deepen their impact on people’s lives and on inequality.
  • We, as a foundation, embed BUILD principles and approaches into the core of our grantmaking practices, and deepens our commitment to civil society institutional resilience.
  • Other funders in the US and around the world commit to larger, longer, more flexible grants aimed at fostering resilient civil society institutions.

How it works

Organizations and networks participating in BUILD receive a five-year funding commitment. A significant portion of that commitment comes in the form of general operating support, with the remainder designated as core support for institutional strengthening. Organizations develop their own plans for the types of institutional strengthening they wish to pursue with these funds. Convenings, technical assistance, evaluation, strategic communications, and funder engagement round out the BUILD model.

Because every organization determines its own institutional strengthening needs—and every organization is unique—no two BUILD grants are identical, and the mix of strengthening support and general support varies in each grant.