Tufts Health Plan Foundation

How does a funder that has traditionally funded grantees’ programmatic needs most effectively expand its support to include capacity building to drive improved outcomes?


Over the years, the Tufts Health Plan Foundation has become adept at grantmaking that focuses on the programmatic needs of healthy aging nonprofits, but had little experience helping grantees build internal capacity in order to be sustainable in the long term—a high priority activity for many of its grantees. Assisting a nonprofit with capacity building requires not only a deep knowledge of a field—including best practices—but also a rigorous methodology for assessing how the nonprofit performs across multiple organizational measures. Although experts in the field, Tufts Health Plan Foundation lacked the capacity to undertake such a project on their own and turned to Root Cause to lead a third-party analysis of their grantees’ programmatic and organizational capacity.

Project Overview

Root Cause conducted independent program analysis for six of the foundation’s grantees. The analysis was based on Root Cause’s social issue report on healthy aging and applying its proven methodology. Analysts collected a large quantity of data through online questionnaires, interviews, and site visits, and then conducted in-depth analysis of how each organization stacked up against leading best practices and standardized indicators in the field.

Each grantee was analyzed across three dimensions: program performance, organizational health, and field advancement. The assessments culminated with an Independent Program Analysis Report for each grantee that highlights each organization’s strengths and challenges as well as specific capacity building activities that would have the greatest impact on each program’s sustainability, ways to improve outcomes, and ability to scale. Root Cause also met with the Tufts Health Plan Foundation to thoroughly review the results of the analyses and provided the foundation with a high-level summary of the most important findings of the six Reports, highlighting common themes and challenges with the goal of helping the foundation make strategic capacity building investments in the future.


The Independent Program Analyses have provided the foundation and its grantees not only with objective analyses of the strengths and challenges of each, but also with clear, actionable recommendations about activities that will build capacity effectively. The Reports have provided a structured way for the Tufts Health Plan Foundation to talk to its grantees individually about how it can best assist with implementing the recommendations.

Relevant expertise and smart problem solving tools.
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