Building Capacity

New Hampshire Charitable Foundation Grant Focuses on Big Picture

Put Your Own Mask on First


Anyone who has ever flown has heard these instructions: “Should a drop in cabin pressure occur, put your own mask on first before trying to assist others.

It’s a simple fact of life: in order to help others, you must take care of yourself first. This is easier said than done, however, when you serve people in crisis in a non-profit setting.

Day after day, our Housing Advocate and Case Managers at the Front Door Agency work with people on the brink of becoming homeless or having their utilities shut off. Young single mothers come to us in crisis when they simply can’t make it on their own without additional support.

Since our staff is busy “putting out fires” all day, there’s very little time to step back and assess the tools and resources needed to effectively do our jobs.  It’s a challenge to find time and money for planning and professional development — not to mention finding time to collaborate with other organizations on the big issues facing our region.

Charitable Foundation Grant Addresses Challenges

Thankfully, a recent grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation will help us to address some of these challenges. Recognizing an important need, in late 2018 the Foundation awarded unrestricted grants for operating support to a number of deserving organizations in the state. We are so grateful to be among them!

The Front Door Agency will receive $60,000 from the Foundation, payable over three years — in our case, with funds made possible from the Frederick W. Cox and Dorothy Thurber Cox Memorial Fund.

Understanding Our Funding Model

Before we look at how this generous grant will make a difference — let’s take a short detour to discuss our current funding model. Many of our programs currently receive some federal or state funding — but those dollars are restricted to direct program support.

So, for example, we are able to give a no-interest security deposit loan to a family in need — but we still have to pay for professional staff to screen and serve that family plus provide office space and pay overhead expenses.

Likewise, we raise about $400,000 annually from special events and direct appeals — but those funds are designated for direct services to clients and maintenance of our 23 older rental units and rarely for the strategic planning, staffing and infrastructure needs of our agency.

Building Capacity, Meeting the Need

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation grant gives us some breathing room and new opportunities. The overall goal of the Foundation’s initiative is to allow organizations to build capacity to ultimately serve more people over time. It’s not so much about helping to put out fires, but more about giving us time in the fire tower to scan the horizon.

Here are a few of the areas in which we hope to use those funds:

  • Devote staff time to explore partnerships with the Nashua area business community for job shadowing, internships and job placement for our clients;
  • Expand our planned giving and major gifts programs and grow our endowment;
  • Foster greater collaborations with other organizations in order to streamline operations;
  • Explore the feasibility of purchasing another affordable housing property to help with a critical shortage in our area.

While New Hampshire’s economy is strong, there remains in our state a severe shortage of affordable rental housing. Only 12% of one-to-two bedroom apartments in our area are considered affordable. Along with other non-profits serving the region, we also struggle to provide comprehensive services to homeless clients who have more complex issues than ever before.

The challenges are real. But our passion for the work remains high and we are so thankful to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation for allowing us the opportunity to put on our own masks first!

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation is New Hampshire’s statewide community foundation, founded in 1962 by and for the people of New Hampshire. The Foundation works with generous and visionary citizens to maximize the power of their giving, supports great work happening in our communities and leads and collaborates on high-impact initiatives. For more information, please visit or call 603-225-6641.