The case for investment in nonprofit capacity

By Janell E. Ray - Contributing columnist

We all know them. They are the people who work tirelessly at a food bank, a free clinic, an after-school program, a mental health center, or any of the other hundreds of nonprofits here in our region. The folks who work or volunteer at nonprofits definitely don’t do it for the money. They do it because they believe wholeheartedly in the mission of service to others.

That commitment to mission is what ensures that we remain a caring and compassionate society. It’s important to us at the Pallottine Foundation of Huntington as we carry on the legacy of service established by the Pallottine Missionary Sisters of caring for the spiritual, emotional and physical health of those in the region. The hundreds of people who work or volunteer at area nonprofits provide life-giving or life-sustaining services to thousands of others. They feed the hungry, heal the sick, help those struggling with addiction, and fend off a host of other challenges – often at the expense of their own personal health or time with their families.

That commitment to mission is important, but it’s not enough. We often think of nonprofits as being able to sustain their operations purely on the good wishes and charity of others. But to achieve the missions they set for themselves (and for us all), nonprofits must be much more sophisticated than a feel-good charity. They need investment just like any for-profit enterprise. The people who serve the neediest among us deserve adequate spaces in which to work, computers and software to manage everything from client data to payroll processing, professional development to increase their skills, and the time and expertise to plan strategically.

We wouldn’t expect a successful business to hamstring itself by underinvesting in its own capacity. That would limit its ability to deliver returns for its shareholders. But we are all the beneficiaries – the “shareholders” – of the work of nonprofits, whether we individually use their services or not. By not investing in their capacity, we’re limiting their ability to deliver the returns that reward us all.

The Pallottine Foundation of Huntington believes strongly in the work of nonprofit organizations in the 20 counties we serve in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio. That’s why we’ve launched our first round of Capacity Building Grants for nonprofits that provide health-related services in our region. This fall, we’ll award grants ranging from $2,500 to $25,000 to help these organizations invest a little in themselves. Right now, we’re accepting applications from eligible organizations, and the full guidelines are available on our website at We’ll fund a variety of capacity building endeavors, including (but not limited to) consulting services, conference and training costs and related travel expenses, software purchases and installation, computer equipment and telephone systems, or the creation or enhancement of an organization’s website.

We believe our investment will make a start at helping nonprofits increase their capacity, but it’s not something we can do alone. Investing in nonprofit capacity will take investments from

many different places. You can do your part by asking the organizations that you see working hard in your community what they need to do their work better, and then making your own contribution, no matter how small. You can also help us share the word about our Capacity Building Grant opportunity, and point nonprofits in your area to our website and encourage them to apply for funding.

Let’s invest in the organizations that pour their hearts and souls into our communities. If we do, we all benefit.

By Janell E. Ray

Contributing columnist

Janell E. Ray is CEO of The Pallottine Foundation of Huntington. The Foundation serves 20 counties in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio, including Mason and Gallia counties, locally. Learn more at

Janell E. Ray is CEO of The Pallottine Foundation of Huntington. The Foundation serves 20 counties in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio, including Mason and Gallia counties, locally. Learn more at