Capacity Building Spotlight: Catchafire

Author: Megan MacDavey, Program Officer

At the Peter & Elizabeth Tower Foundation, strengthening organizational capacity is a central tenant in our grantmaking. We recognize that our communities need strong organizations, leaders, and teams in order to deliver the best services to the populations we are interested in supporting. We also know that organizations are dealing with significant challenges in the present moment: burnout, staffing shortages, and unprecedented levels of mental health needs among clients.

Now more than ever organizations need the flexibility to do what they can to build up their infrastructure. Since 2019, the Foundation has supported a partnership with Catchafire to provide flexible capacity building support to our grant partners. Catchafire is an online platform that facilitates capacity building support and professional development opportunities by connecting nonprofits with skills-based volunteers across the country and even around the world. 

Over the years, more than 100 of our grant partners have matched with a pro bono volunteer on more than 500 capacity building projects and calls through Catchafire. Last year, the most popular projects on the platform included: 

  • Translation
  • Logo Design & Visual Brand Identity
  • Customer Database Audit
  • Employee Handbook
  • Compensation Plan

This investment has evolved over the years, beginning with a small group of Tower Foundation grant partners and eventually evolving into two groups: one in Western New York co-funded with the WNY Nonprofit Support Group funders (, and one in Massachusetts  (, supporting not just Tower Foundation grant partners, but those organizations recommended by our local Community Foundation partners as well. 

Here are a few things we have heard recently from grant partners that utilize Catchafire: 

“Catchafire is great— it’s like having an extra magic tool box in our office.”

“Catchafire is a great resource to access individuals with skills to support me and my organization with ongoing strategic challenges.”

“Catchafire has been enormously helpful to our organization in many ways. I have picked up the phone . . . and started conversations with at least 6 professionals whose advice has assisted me in 1) creating a complex excel document to track outcome metrics… 2) preparing for a strategic meeting with our partner… 3) conducting a working meeting of the Board to outline action steps for our strategic plan 4) developing our administrative supports as we expand our programming 5) creating our operating budget 6) online fundraising efforts.”

To get a sense for how organizations in your communities are using the platform, check out the impact pages for Western New York and Massachusetts. If you’re curious to learn more about the platform, take a look at this overview.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash