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Resiliency: Why It Matters, How Nonprofits and Funders Can Build It


Dear Colleagues,

In my letter of January 15, I discussed the Foundation’s strategies and thinking about spending down, including our intention to generate knowledge that will be useful for the field. Today, I’m happy to introduce a new feature on the Foundation’s website, a section we are calling “Effectiveness” that features the tools we are developing and using to guide our investments as well as reports and products drawn from evaluation, research, and peer learning projects we are supporting.

We’re premiering the Foundation’s Resiliency Guide as we launch this new resource. The Guide is a tool we developed to highlight needs and opportunities to invest in the resiliency of grantees through the course of our spend down. The Guide provides both a framework for assessing organizational resiliency and resources for developing a rich understanding of its defining factors. The Guide is designed to be useful to nonprofit organizations as well as funders, and to advance conversations about resiliency throughout the field.

Although the Foundation has always taken organizational capacity into account in its grantmaking, the decision to spend down brought new focus and urgency to this topic. We are working to assure that California’s children will learn and be inspired by great teachers to become proficient in science, technology, engineering, and math; that they will have guidance and role models to develop strong character; and that California’s water and land resources will be well stewarded. This work involves challenges that will persist long after the Foundation’s doors close. Therefore, we need to do everything we can to make sure the organizations leading that work going forward are strong for the long haul. And, as we make major investments over the next few years, we also need to be sure that we pay attention to each grantee organization’s capacity to navigate the new challenges that come with change.

Barbara Kibbe and the Organizational Effectiveness team rose to meet this need, developing and testing the Resiliency Guide over several years. They drew on the experience of the Foundation’s program staff and external experts as well as feedback from grantees and other users. We hope you will find the Guide and related materials helpful and thought-provoking.

We welcome your comments and feedback on how best to improve the Resiliency Guide and its application; contact us anytime at


Lauren B. Dachs