Enhancing Nonprofit Capacity in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Commitment by Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands

In 2019, the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI), in partnership with Catchafire, committed to design and execute an 18-month program to provide 150 nonprofit organizations in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) access to an online pro bono platform to support their organizational and operational needs. Nonprofit organizations in the USVI were some of the earliest responders to the needs of residents after the 2017 hurricane season. However, resources to support nonprofits are limited and capacity building remains a need among the community. Through this commitment, CFVI and Catchafire will conduct a design study to determine nonprofit needs, provide capacity building through Catchafire’s comprehensive platform and in-person services, collect data on the program’s utility, and share overall findings with the broader community. This project aims to strengthen nonprofit organizational effectiveness, not only on the frontlines of disaster relief and recovery, but also on an ongoing basis.



Enhancing Nonprofit Capacity in the U.S. Virgin Islands



Est. Duration

2 Years

Estimated Total Value



Latin America & Caribbean


Virgin Islands, U.S.

Commitment by

Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands

Partner(s) of the Commitment Maker(s)


The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI), in partnership with Catchafire, commits to design and execute a localized program to bolster the effectiveness and resilience of the USVI nonprofit community. Through an initial 18-month program, this commitment will provide 150 USVI nonprofit organizations with access to the Catchafire online platform and programming with a network of millions of pro bono professionals to address nonprofit organizational and operational needs. This Commitment will include three unique phases: 1) A Design Study informing program structure; 2) Capacity building to support 150 nonprofits for 18 months; and 3) Research & Publication that will synthesize findings and be shared with the broader community.

The Design Study will be informed by market, ethnographic and field research, incorporating interviews with nonprofit organizations to better understand the local needs and current resources available. These interviews will also help identify the ideal nonprofits to include in the program. Participating nonprofits will include CFVI current grantees, as well as referrals from interviews with select local nonprofits and strategic allies.

Following the Design Study, the program will begin with ongoing platform access and support, as well as monitoring and mid-year reviews to inform programmatic needs. Nonprofits will have access to in-person and online trainings, including virtual nonprofit advisory and needs assessments, in-person information sessions, and nonprofit convenings.

After 12 months of programmatic support, the Research and Publication phase of the program will begin. Through surveys and other data collection methods, Catchafire will gather information and synthesize the program impact to share with the broader philanthropic community. Catchafire will present a written report as well as a video highlighting program impact and incorporating nonprofit testimonials. This will serve to inform program growth within USVI and a potential expansion throughout the Caribbean.

May 2019: Catchafire begins Design Study (12-week duration), including “listening tour” involving market research, ethnographic research, and in-person interviews with nonprofits and strategic allies; Initial identification and selection of launch cohort begins

June 2019: Ongoing outreach to build interest for the program

July 2019: Catchafire finalizes and presents Design Study Report to CFVI; Catchafire and CFVI launch the program; Catchafire begins engagement and awareness campaign to introduce the program to the pre-selected 150 nonprofits

July 2019 - January 2021: 18-month program for 150 USVI nonprofits begins; Catchafire runs one in-person information session on St. Thomas and one session in St. Croix via the Catchafire Nonprofit Engagement team; Catchafire offers individual nonprofit Needs Assessment calls via the Catchafire Nonprofit Advisory team; Catchafire provides unlimited nonprofit support via the Customer Success team; Catchafire liaises with CFVI on monthly calls to communicate activity and impact, review progress on goals, and seek program improvements and modifications

January 2020: Catchafire provides a mid-year program review; Catchafire collects quantitative data, such as organizations registered, projects matched, and project value generated; Catchafire provides qualitative impact, such as nonprofit testimonials articulating experiences and impact; Nonprofits will have an opportunity to participate in surveys to help Catchafire and CFVI measure impact and early success. Findings will be presented to CFVI.

July 2020: Catchafire performs another mid-year program review and compares findings with prior January report to track program goals.

August 2020: Catchafire begins the Research and Publication Phase (duration 16-20 weeks), including year-end review and update on the state of affairs of the USVI nonprofit ecosystem.

December 2020: Catchafire presents findings of the Research and Publication Phase; This will include a written report as well as a video highlighting program impact and nonprofit testimonials; Catchafire and CFVI engage partners, including CGI to share learnings with the philanthropic community.


The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) nonprofit community plays a significant role in the social fiber of the Territory. In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, nonprofit organizations stepped up as some of the earliest responders to the needs of residents reeling from two back-to-back historic storms. USVI nonprofits provided critical services by serving meals, providing shelter, supplementing programming, and facilitating incoming aid.

In the aftermath of the storms, local nonprofits banded together to create long term recovery efforts on each of the three main islands. Expertise and assistance emerged from the nonprofits, individual volunteers, businesses, local and federal government agencies, faith communities and organizations throughout the world with experience in disaster management and recovery.

Nevertheless, resources to support the USVI nonprofit sector are limited and capacity building remains a need among the nonprofit community. In light of the limited resources available after an emergency, particularly for geographically isolated areas, such as USVI, resilience is increasingly important as natural disasters escalate in frequency and intensity. Resilient communities enhance the immediate response to a disaster and reduce the overall recovery period and associated investment. (RAND Corporation, Building Community Resilience to Disasters: A Roadmap to Guide Local Planning).

USVI has also experienced negative migration over the last several decades. This poses a further challenge – to consider how to increase the capacity of the nonprofit community despite a decrease in local human capital and social sector expertise. As the needs and responsibilities of the nonprofit community increase in scope, the health of the nonprofit community is critical to the future of USVI.

Partnership Opportunities

CFVI is seeking partners interested in supporting technology needs for nonprofits in USVI (e.g., computers, internet equipment, and other materials). In addition, to maintain momentum and provide the platform as a permanent resource, commitments for funding continued partnership would be critical. Lastly, to build awareness, the commitment maker and partner seek the support of local, national, and international press to spotlight the joint initiative. This will allow the program to further engage the local nonprofit community and expand its reach and impact. CFVI welcomes outreach from USVI-based nonprofit agencies interested in being part of the initial launch of the CFVI-Catchafire platform. At the completion of the Research and Publication phase of the program, CFVI and Catchafire will share programmatic findings with the broader CGI community to amplify learnings and insights with regards to the state of affairs of the nonprofit community, as well as their aggregate capacity building needs. The team welcomes the opportunity to explore best practices and findings for a similar program with the aim of expanding into other nonprofit communities throughout the Caribbean.

Progress Reports

February 2021

This commitment has reached the end of a successful 21-month partnership. As of January 2021, USVI nonprofits in the cohort have received 3,723 hours of pro bono support from Catchafire volunteers, associated with a total savings of $726,845. Of the enrolled cohort of 150 organizations, 105 registered and 53 organizations matched on a Catchafire project or call, with 228 total unique matches between nonprofits and volunteers. Top project types that organizations have worked on with pro bono experts include Brochure Graphic Design, Logo Design & Visual Brand Identity, Branded Digital Assets, Individual Donor Letter, and Website Content Plan.

The following quote from a Catchafire conducted interview with one of the USVI cohort nonprofits highlights the significance of the impact of this partnership: “Working with Catchafire has been an unbelievable experience for us. This offering is very likely the best thing I have seen come out of any of the local foundations, post-2017 storms, to support local non-profit organizations. Kudos to CFVI and Catchafire.”