Maximizing Limited Dollars: Supporting Anchor Organizations

A Model from WG’s Children, Youth and Families Working Group

The tension between rising needs for basic services and plunging foundation assets is very much on the minds of Washington Grantmakers members.  Many of our convening groups have held in-depth discussions about individual foundation positions and short-term strategies.  In December, WG’s Children, Youth and Families Working Group took the conversation a step further.

Recognizing the likelihood that some organizations will not secure the necessary funding to survive, the group agreed to develop a list of criteria that could help funders identify “anchor organizations” – organizations that provide essential services and are most capable of making the adjustments necessary to succeed in this economic climate.

The criteria are intended to be used as a tool to provide a framework for evaluating organizations in this difficult economic reality.  While these criteria are youth-oriented, we thought our members would find them useful in guiding their funding decisions in the months ahead.

An anchor organization should:

  • Address and fill an essential community need
  • Possess the capacity to adapt and survive
  • Be open to and capable of collaborating with more vulnerable organizations
  • Possess strong leadership at the Board and Executive levels, and effective management and administrative services
    • Have a developed leadership succession plan
  • Be able to meet its stated goals and achieve identifiable impact
  • Fill a geographic need or community niche
  • Have a back-up plan in the event of reduced funding
  • Provide cross-cutting services lauded by the community
  • Work from youth development/asset-based model and employ a holistic approach
  • Help to ensure coverage for all youth and work to fill age gaps
  • Provide a spectrum of appropriate services
  • Have a strategy or component for serving youth’s families

If you are interested in the process and proposed next steps, please click here for a full report.