Building Infrastructure in the Non-Profit Sector

Strategic Direction

The nonprofit sector is a huge economic driver in the State of Maryland, creating more job growth in the past decade than the corporate sector. The Straus Foundation makes a small portion of its overall grantmaking available for the purpose of keeping the sector strong and vibrant, to increasing philanthropic investment in the Baltimore community, and to helping organizations strengthen their infrastructure so that services can be delivered in efficient, cost-effective, and measurable ways. In addition, the Straus Foundation encourages the community’s best and brightest to seek careers in public service, public policy and the nonprofit sector, and was very instrumental in both the passage of the National Community Service Act and Maryland’s Americorps program.

Key Initiatives

The Straus Foundation is interested in building the management capacity of nonprofits so that they can operate more efficiently and cost-effectively.

The Straus Foundation, in its effort to leverage its own resources and the capacity of its grantees, seeks to fund opportunities which encourage the development of strategic philanthropy in particular “pockets” of wealth within the community, including African-Americans, women, and young leaders.

The Foundation is interested in working with nonprofit organizations to diversify their respective revenue bases. This includes increasing their fundraising capacity as well as looking at how they might create income-generating projects or subsidiaries.

The Foundation is interested in looking at ways to work with the corporate community to encourage human resource policies and practices which can best benefit the families and children of lower-wage workers while retaining a loyal and productive workforce.

Selected Grantees

Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers: Created in 1983 by the Straus Foundation and four other foundations, The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers became the 28th regional association in the country whose purpose was to strengthen and promote organized philanthropy in the Baltimore region. The Association has 134 foundation members and has built a reputation for being one of the strongest regional associations in the country.

Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations: Founded in 1991 with start-up funding from Straus and other Maryland foundations, the Maryland Nonprofits’ mission is to strengthen and support the ability of nonprofit organizations to serve the community and to enhance public understanding of, confidence in, and support for the nonprofit sector. The association now represents 1,300 organizations integral to the social and economic well-being and fulfillment of individuals, families and communities in Maryland. Maryland Nonprofits is a national leader in the fields of nonprofit performance, ethics and accountability, and capacity-building in governance, management and operations.

University of Maryland Baltimore County Sondheim Public Affairs Program: With a goal of encouraging careers in public service, this program at UMBC, named after our city’s visionary leader, Walter Sondheim, is designed for students especially interested in pursuing careers in government and politics, in the public sector, and in the community. The Sondheim Scholars will agree to work in the Baltimore community during and after pursuit of this graduate degree.

Community Wealth Ventures: Working in a conjunction with other funders, this program has brought the expertise of national management consultants to Baltimore to work with a group of selected grantees on the creation or growth of social enterprise.