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Capacity Building Spotlight: FOLAR

On September 14th, an eager crowd of funders, board members and nonprofit staff gathered at the Cameron Foundation to watch “Investment Plan” presentations from five local nonprofits who had just undergone a major capacity building evaluation.  Funded by Cameron, the nonprofits were able to go through a cohort-based “Organizational Improvement Process” (OIP) offered by the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence over the past six months.

photo credit: The Cameron Foundation

photo credit: The Cameron Foundation

OIP gave the nonprofits an in-depth look at infrastructure, operational effectiveness and sustainability, including directional strategies.  Executive Directors and Board members took online assessments, attended workshops, partnered with a consultant and learned from peer organizations during the process.

The five participating nonprofits were:

Here’s a snapshot of FOLAR’s Investment Plan:

Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR)


The Friends of the Lower Appomattox (FOLAR) is dedicated to conserving and protecting the natural, cultural, and recreational resources along the Lower Appomattox River from Lake Chesdin in Chesterfield County, through Dinwiddie, Petersburg, Colonial Heights, Prince George to the river’s convergence with the James River in Hopewell, Virginia.


Through their River Stewardship-Education programs, Water Quality programs, and the construction of the Greenway and Blueway Heritage Trail, FOLAR works to enhance river ecology, improve parks, establish and connect trails, access the river, and protect special places.


Wendy Austin, Interim Executive Director for FOLAR said that the OIP Assessment process, along with a string of community conversations, allowed them to break down the organizations focus into two areas – build organizational capacity while simultaneously completing the Lower Appomattox River Heritage Trail in two phases.


In order to build capacity ,FOLAR discovered that their highest priorities are to:

1) build the board

2) engage members and supporters

3) raise money for sustainability

4) create a new business plan

They estimate that the above efforts would require approximately $45,000.

The first phase of the River Trail completion project would include a detailed cost approximately $255,000 to complete and would include design strategy, site and trail upgrades and signage fabrication and installation.


FOLAR also just recently won The Cameron Foundation’s Cleveland A. Wright Award for Outstanding Community Service and will receive $20,000 in unrestricted grant funding.

Stay tuned for more Capacity Building and Investment Plans from the other local nonprofits!

See Al-A-Mo Addiction Recovery Center

See Colonial Heights Food Pantry


The Organizational Improvement Process provides a proven-framework for helping our nonprofit partners invest in organizational learning and development to move their missions forward. Nonprofit capacity building is an ongoing process that requires commitment, resources and expertise to grow and advance for greater impact. All of the organizations that participate in OIP found value in taking a step back to assess strengths and opportunities for growth in order to approach the future with an informed perspective. The partnership with The Cameron Foundation has been invaluable in offering such a meaningful opportunity to five dynamic organizations that are poised to leverage this experience to open new doors and engage in conversations about what it takes to strengthen organizations that provide such important resources and services to our community. Investors should feel confident in knowing that OIP participants are committed to strengthening their sustainability, impact, and success.

Jenay Barbee, Organizational Solutions Senior Manager, Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence


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