What is Capacity Building?
Effective nonprofits are vital to the healthy development and quality of life in any community. But what do we mean by effective? Often that term is used as a quality indicator measuring the positive impact of an organization’s direct services upon its service recipients – what knowledge, skills, behaviors or conditions have changed to contribute to the betterment of an individual and/or a community.
However, while effective programs and services are the most visible aspect of an organization, what provides the impetus to produce these desired results is the quality of the structural core that supports these consumable products. Like a vegetable garden, if we do not pay attention to the soil content, root structures and other variables that support and sustain the growing system, our products wane, wither and may eventually succumb, as they are ill-prepared to endure the stress of the ever changing environment.
Capacity building then is a process of implementing activities critical to the long-term viability and support of an organization. A common thread throughout all definitions of capacity building is that it is about intentional, coordinated and mission-driven efforts aimed at strengthening the management and governance of nonprofits to improve organizational performance and impact. This often occurs through targeted activities focusing on improving core skills and capabilities such as:
- Leadership development and succession planning
- Strong governance
- Strategic planning
- Board development
- Community engagement and collaboration
- Sound management
- Marketing and communications
- Human resources management
- Staff training and development
- Program design, evaluation, outcomes
- Technology, accountability systems and IS
- Financial planning/fundraising and revenue development
If an organization is equipped to function smoothly at the operational level, its profile in the community will increase, it will retain great staff, develop and implement better programs, engage more stakeholders, and be more likely to acquire funding in the future from diverse sources.
The end result is the organization’s ability to offer more effective services to those in the community who need them most, and The Center for Nonprofit Resources is here to help with online resources and professional development workshops.