This section describes specific capacity building projects and offers links to case studies in capacity building. Examples of effective capacity building also includes capacity building for advocacy and capacity building for planning.
It may be stating the obvious, but nonprofits are comprised of people – people with skills, expertise, and experience. Capacity building activities that improve an organization’s ability to achieve its mission are necessary activities that involve the staff of the organization in some way. Consequently, staff and board training to improve skills, evaluate gaps, implement needed policies and procedures, bolster efficiencies, and utilize new technologies, are all examples of capacity building activities.
Leadership training for a nonprofit’s staff and board leadership is a prime example of critical capacity building activities.
First, a nonprofit must be operational and sustainable. In a 2009 report entitled, The Sustainability Formula: How Nonprofit Organizations Can Thrive in the Emerging Economy (TCC Group), the authors found that effective leadership is the strongest predictor of nonprofit sustainability, followed by fundraising/financial management, and program staffing and management. Other key indicators of sustainability included:
Leadership is one of the most critical factors for a nonprofit’s capacity, yet strong leadership does not always result in a well-managed nonprofit. Read this article, Strongly Led, Under- Managed: How Can Visionary Nonprofits Make the Critical Transition to Stronger Management, by Daniel Stid and Jeffrey L. Bradach, Bridgespan (2008) to understand the tension between strong leadership and strong management.
An Analysis of Capacity Building in the Mid-Ohio Valley McDonough Center, Marietta College (2009), an in-depth analysis of the capacity building opportunities and challenges for nonprofits in a specific region. The report reviews what the barriers to capacity building are and offers recommendations for action including funding assistance and specific trainings to help build the capacity of the nonprofits.
Capacity Building for Nonprofits: A Hartford Example TCC Group (2008), gives excellent examples of how conducting an assessment of several groups’ core capacities and investments in which their capacity was challenged resulted in transformational outcomes.
A report prepared for the Lumpkin Family Foundation, Nonprofit Capacity and Community Building in Central Illinois, (2006), describing the experience of one private foundation’s capacity building programs.
Lessons learned: Funders Little Shop of Horrors – Misguided Attempts at Nonprofit Capacity Building Foundation News and Commentary (2005).
Capacity building can leverage other changes in an organization as described in An Analysis of the Pittsburgh Region’s Capacity-Building Industry: Who is Doing What for Whom and to What End, a report by the Forbes Funds (2004), identifies barriers to effective capacity building as well as factors leading to leveraging capacity building into organizational change.
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