Our Unique Approach

The Pierce Family Foundation’s primary focus is on nonprofits working in housing and homelessness in Chicago, and helping those nonprofits to build the capacity they need to operate effectively. The Foundation understands the real costs nonprofits face, and thus supports “full mission funding,” providing unrestricted general operating dollars for the essentials that keep organizations strong and programs thriving—things like staffing, technology, and fundraising capacity.

Heather at Axelson Bootcamp
Co-Executive Director Heather D. Parish explains the Foundation’s philosophy of capacity building to attendees at the Axelson Center’s Executive Director Boot Camp.

We know that nonprofits rarely fail because their programs aren’t needed or because their vision is limited; when they fail, it is because they are unable to meet fixed costs or adequately invest in operating essentials. We understand that the greatest challenges faced by nonprofit organizations relate to the lack of support for their organizational development needs. That is why, in addition to providing grants, the Foundation supports capacity building through workshops, peer skill sharing, and the use of nonprofit support specialists that help core grantees with organizational challenges ranging from strategic planning to IT needs to fundraising.

“Thank you for funding our professional development efforts. You are one of the few funders who supports this kind of infrastructure.”

MP & KT
Co-Executive Director Marianne Philbin and Support Specialist Kris Torkelson prepare for a session of Top Talent Institute, one of the Foundation’s capacity building programs.

“I am so appreciative of your assistance in helping us think about technology in an organized, structured way, as an agency.”

“The concern that PFF has for nonprofit capacity-building is truly evident: thanks for this helpful, memorable opportunity! [Top Talent Institute]”

“Thank you for today’s seminar.  I learned a lot and I believe that it was very helpful for all of the participants. Truly, the PFF lives up to its promise to support their charities grow and develop.”

“Thanks for the creative system [Peer Skill Share] you and your colleagues have devised for spreading knowledge, encouragement, and mentoring in our sector.”

“Without the support of Pierce Family Foundaiton, these sorts of ‘behind the scenes’ expenses would be difficulty to justify – but we know they are critical as we grow and evolve as an agency.”

Innovative Capacity Building

The Pierce Family Foundation supports “full mission funding,” providing unrestricted general operating dollars for the essentials that keep organizations strong and programs thriving, and helps build the capacity organizations need to operate effectively.