Mission Capital: A new approach to community challenges

This blog is part of a series that highlights the work of our partners.

Austin residents know this to be true: From gridlock traffic to taller buildings, Central Texas is growing rapidly with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Central Texas – one of the fastest growing regions in the county – has seen increased community need as Austin has grown and transformed into a mecca of technology and innovation. Residents have responded by taking action. Recent statistics show that Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) now has more nonprofits per capita, totaling nearly 6,000, than any other major MSA in the Southwest U.S. If Austin residents are working so hard to meet the needs of their community, why is there still so much work to be done?

For the last 14 years, Mission Capital (formerly Greenlights for Nonprofit Success) has been equipping Central Texas nonprofits with the knowledge and tools they need to be more effective. Through trusted relationships and in-depth consulting across many types of local nonprofits, Mission Capital works to improve the social sector by guiding existing nonprofits to achieve their greatest potential.

A new vision

The large surge in the number of Austin-area nonprofits led Mission Capital to develop a new approach to their work. In February, they announced a focus shift they believe will go beyond consulting to give the organization more of a change-agent role in the field. These key actions will give Mission Capital a more holistic, hands-on approach to their work:

  • They will study the nonprofit sector as a whole to find what is and is not working and grow the sector based on that research. They know that certain elements make a nonprofit successful – clarity of purpose, exceptional leadership, intentional partnerships and sustainable business models – and they will develop organizations based on this knowledge.
  • They will encourage strategic collaboration and collective action. No single person, organization or idea can make a sustainable impact alone. They recently restructured their summit – now called Mission Driven – to focus more on unlocking innovation to scale an organization. They believe innovative organizations leave no resource untapped.
  • They will develop the critical elements required to bring about lasting, positive change. This includes giving social entrepreneurs and nonprofit innovators equal access to human and financial capital, developing more creative and effective ways to invest in the community and making Austin known as a leader in social innovation.

Without the support and partnership of Mission Capital, organizations such as TCCC and TCU could never have achieved such ambitious goals.

Innovative thinking

Not only does Mission Capital have a unique, overarching view of Austin philanthropy, but they are also establishing programs – such as the Accelerator Program – to help nonprofits achieve their end goals. When Mission Capital merged with the organization Innovation+ in January 2014, they had new capacity to place skilled volunteers in under-staffed organizations, freeing up space for nonprofits to scale and try new things. The support and programs Mission Capital put in place were the first of its kind in the Austin area, opening up new, innovative possibilities for local nonprofits.

An example of this: Beginning in the summer of 2014, the foundation enlisted Mission Capital’ expertise and management support on a project with the Travis County Collaborative for Children (TCCC) and the TCU Institute for Child Development (ICD) to benefit the Central Texas child welfare system with the opportunity to scale to the state of Texas and beyond. In this partnership, Mission Capital will support the ICD with a goal to deepen partner and stakeholder engagement, promote sustainability and ensure ongoing impact. The ultimate goals of this collaborative are:

  • Reduced number of placements and time in care for children
  • Improvements in children’s behavior and ethe parenting skills of caregivers
  • Organizational changes at the respective agencies
  • Overall system changes overall

Without the support and partnership of Mission Capital, organizations such as TCCC and TCU could never have achieved such ambitious goals.

Making an impact

Since 2012, Mission Capital has logged over 5,200 consulting hours to better improve local organizations. They have increased their budget by 191% and have nearly doubled the size of their staff since 2010 to increase capacity for greater impact. They are a key player in transforming Austin into a social innovation hub.

Mission Capital has proven that the sum is greater than its parts : The combined efforts of Austin-area nonprofits are more impactful than the efforts of each organization alone. Through their innovative and tireless work, they are a trusted thought partner who has demonstrated they can – and will – evolve with the growth of the community they’re serving.


Other blogs in this series:

Education Cities: Redefining what’s possible in education

Marathon Kids: Scaling nationally so more kids can go the distance

LEAD Public Schools: Chartering restart work in Music City