Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc: Assessing the Impact of Capacity-Building Supports

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Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas: Assessing the Impact of Capacity-Building Supports


Understand whether the technical assistance support a foundation provided to a subset of grantees helped the organizations address sustainability concerns and achieve greater impact


Evaluation findings that can help chart the foundation’s course for future investments in capacity building and offer practical guidance for other grantmakers


In 2014, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. established Sí Texas: Social Innovation for a Healthy South Texas through a Social Innovation Fund grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The grant awarded Methodist Healthcare Ministries a total of $50 million dollars over five years to stimulate local solutions to improving physical and behavioral health, specifically targeting co-occurrences of diabetes and depression. Sí Texas funds eight South Texas organizations to implement Integrated Behavioral Health services. Through this approach, Methodist Healthcare Ministries seeks to scale strategies that are making a difference in advancing health outcomes for residents.

As the initiative got underway, Methodist Healthcare Ministries realized that providing capacity-building support for grantees was going to be critical to Sí Texas’ success. In 2016, the organization developed a capacity-building program for grantees to become stronger organizations better equipped to advance health outcomes in their communities. The initial design of the program included three components: peer-to-peer connections, a series of trainings designed to help organizations develop skills and expertise that would improve patient care and outcomes, and targeted technical assistance to address each grantee’s specific needs.

In 2018, Methodist Healthcare Ministries partnered with Community Wealth Partners to evaluate the capacity-building program, with an emphasis on the technical assistance portion. The evaluation had five goals:

  1. Assess the extent to which the program was implemented as intended and identify any best practices related to the implementation.
  2. Ascertain whether the organizations are better positioned to sustain their integrated behavioral health models as a result of the program.
  3. Ascertain whether the organizations are better positioned for sustainability as a result of the program.
  4. Identify recommendations for strengthening the program.
  5. Explore potential implications for measuring long-term outcomes and impact of the program.

The qualitative evaluation included interviews with five out of six technical assistance providers, 27 members of grantee and partner organizations who participated in technical assistance activities, and Methodist Healthcare Ministries staff. We developed mid-point and summary reports to share findings with the foundation along the way.

As the work evolved, the capacity-building team identified an additional goal for the engagement. The team saw an opportunity to use the evaluation findings to make a stronger case for the value of capacity building across the foundation and with other funders, and they asked us to help them make the case. In response to this, we facilitated a meaning-making conversation with leadership and staff and other Texas funders to share what we learned about nonprofits’ capacity-building needs and how funders can best provide support. We also wrote an article for publication in a philanthropic journal on behalf of Methodist Healthcare Ministries to share reflections from the evaluation.

Stronger organizations

for better health outcomes


Overall, grantees expressed satisfaction with the coordination of the capacity-building program. Some of the short-term outcomes reported included strategic plans to guide future work, enhanced use of data to inform decision making, and improved ability to lead and manage teams. Grantees reported not only that they learned new techniques and skills, but the capacity-building engagement also yielded new materials – such as strategic plans or standard operating procedures – to guide future work. In addition, grantees said they now have outcomes they can use to frame their impact to funders to help them generate more resources to sustain their organizations.

In addition, the capacity-building team said they thought the opportunity to share the evaluation findings more broadly and engage in conversation with other funders helped raise awareness of the value of capacity building among leadership at the foundation. The team members observed more mentions of capacity building among board members and senior leadership and were hopeful that it would ultimately translate into sustained investments in capacity-building support for grantees.

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