Capacity Building Grant Program
Sunflower Foundation > 2017 Annual Report > Features > Capacity Building Grant Program
Stronger Nonprofits, Healthier Kansans
Capacity Building Grants Aim to Let Nonprofits Focus More on Their Missions
Over the years, our partner organizations have evolved and grown. But one thing has stayed the same—and every capacity building grantee has it in common: Steadfast commitment to their mission, prioritizing the needs of those they serve, often at the expense of their organization’s basic needs.
This trait is admirable and reflects the dedication of the organizations to their missions of improving the lives of Kansans. But it can also leave many nonprofits with little, if any, budget for technology or other upgrades to core operating infrastructure. Year after year, they make do with what they’ve got—whether it’s old and slow computers, outdated software, inadequate phone systems, a website that no longer functions well on today’s devices…and so on and so on.
Nonprofits generally hold themselves to a high standard: be lean, efficient, responsive, and adaptive. Even so, being burdened by poor tools can compromise their ability to pursue their mission. And we know that when nonprofits have a good year, they often direct surplus funds back toward their core mission and services.
That’s why Sunflower established the Capacity Building Initiative: to help develop organizations’ core skills and capabilities in order to increase effectiveness, impact, and sustainability. Following are stories of three 2017 Capacity Building grantees.
Central Kansas Mental Health Center
Salina, Central Kansas
For years now, it has taken two staff members two entire days to run payroll, said Executive Director Kathy Mosher.
“We’ve been making due with a 22-year-old accounting system that we could no longer get support for. We had to use a lot of spreadsheets to make things work. It’s really been a drag on everyone’s time,” Mosher said.
A $28,125 Capacity Building grant will allow the center to dramatically upgrade the system. “With this new system, it will be night and day—it will take one person maybe a couple of hours.”
Just as important, the new system will interface with the center’s electronic medical record, which will allow the center, over the long term, to improve the quality and efficiency of its services.
“This system will allow us to move into outcome-based payment systems that we know are coming in Kansas,” Mosher said.
Mosher said that most available grants are focused on patient care, and that Sunflower’s Capacity Building grants fill a critical need.
“Helping build organizations’ capacity isn’t the most glamorous approach,” Mosher said. “But the fact is, it can be just as powerful over time as any funding initiative. It’s absolutely just as important.”
Norton County Hospital
Norton, Northwest Kansas
Soon after joining the team, her priority has been to address the two main sources of frustration for the 150 employees: 1) Lack of communication and 2) Lack of accountability, she said.
“Typically, the only communication tool used was email. But with the complexities of schedules for health care employees, that was far from optimal. For example, somebody may work three nights in a row, have limited time to check email, and then be off for four days,” Frack said.
“We didn’t even have a common calendar for staff availability, or an ‘in and out’ board,” she said.
The $23,224 Capacity Building grant will allow her administration to implement a HIPAA-compliant intranet to support staff, both at the Critical Access Hospital and its two clinics—one in Norton and the other in Logan.
“This new system lets us know which staff are available and when, so that we know exactly what our team is capable of at any given time,” Frack said.
The benefits of the new system are numerous, Frack said. Beyond basic communication and accountability, for the first time all staff will be able to log in remotely 24 hours a day, and via mobile devices. The system gives administrators a ready means to send mass-staff notifications, including emergency alerts. The new network also dramatically improves the hospital’s risk mitigation.
Likewise, the new system gives staff a searchable, secure means to store and share other documents, instead of relying on email attachments. The system allows administrators to give varying levels of access to doctors, nurses, accountants, and so on.
The new network will make compliance tracking much more efficient, which should enhance patient care.
“This new network is not inexpensive, there’s no getting around that. But for all the ways that it will improve our operations and delivery of patient care, its value is clear,” Frack said. “Sometimes it's difficult to explain the return on investment when something isn’t directly for frontline patient care. That’s what is so great about Sunflower’s Capacity Building grants—the existence of the initiative acknowledges how critical basic infrastructure is for quality patient care.”
Wilson Medical Center
Neodesha, Southeast Kansas
Wilson Medical Center serves about 50,000 patients annually via its hospital in Neodesha and two clinics—one 20 miles away in Cherryvale, and the other 15 miles away in Independence. However, in some ways, the clinics have been operating on their own, for lack of a modern privacy-protected network to connect them all.
A $30,000 Capacity Building grant will allow the medical center to implement a new network interface between this Critical Access Hospital and its rural health clinics. Previously, their network could not transmit certain patient information like lab results, which meant the clinics did not often use the hospital’s lab, said Janice Reese, the medical center’s Community Relations Director.
The new network will also allow the center to expand the services it offers, particularly in Independence, a community of 8,800 people that saw its hospital close in 2015.
“When the hospital closed, their Cancer Center needed a new space. We’ve been housing them temporarily in our clinic’s education room, and we’re in the process of building out a permanent space for them,” Reese said. “This new network will provide the same benefit there, too, connecting our hospital and the clinics to them as well.”
“By being able to get funding for a core component of our infrastructure, it more than triples our ability to deliver quality, timely patient care,” Reese said. “When you consider all the improvements—improved patient care, revenue growth, and expansion of services—there is really a compounding effect to this capacity building grant.
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