Capacity Building

What Is Capacity Building?

Organizational capacity building is the transfer of knowledge and/or skills, to increase and improve the ability of the organization to deliver a social good. By enhancing the abilities of organizations that will allow them to achieve measurable, sustainable and high quality results or social good.

Organizational capacity building focuses on developing the capacities of organizations, so they are better equipped to accomplish the missions they have set out to fulfill. Failures in development can often be traced back to an organization’s inability to deliver on the service promises it has pledged to keep. Organizational capacity building often involves building up skills and abilities, such as decision making, policy-formulation, appraisal, and learning.  For organizations, capacity building may relate to almost any aspect of its work: improved governance, leadership, mission and strategy, administration (including human resources, financial management, and legal matters), program development and implementation, fund-raising and income generation, diversity, partnerships and collaboration, evaluation, advocacy and policy change, marketing, positioning, planning. Capacity building in non-profits is a way to strengthen an organization so that it can perform the specific mission it has set out to do and thus survive as an organization. It is an ongoing process that incites organizations to continually reflect on their work, organization, and leadership and ensure that they are fulfilling the mission and goals they originally set out to do.

Understanding the obstacles that prevent an organization to succeed or to produce a high caliber social good. In small organizations the core competencies are often missing, basic skills required to operate and deliver community benefit. Education is the only answer. Staff and volunteer training will not only benefit the community in improved services but will be a brain trust in the community where ever the people migrate and will replicate itself through the ripple effect or knowledge transfer.

Since the early 2000’s studies have concluded that capacity building is vital to the health of the sector and yet the funding has not flowed and little has been done to assist particularly small charities and non-profits.

Venture Philanthropy Partners report “ Effective Capacity Building in Non-profit Organizations” states the following in their chapter on Organizational Skills:

For many high-performing non-profits, the most important component of the value chain is the process through which they develop, implement, fund, and measure programs. Crafting a successful process – one that increases social impact-draws on the full range of an organization’s skills. From strategic planning to marketing and fund-raising to program development and execution.

Think of an organization that has a demonstrated record of success in delivering a particular program, but has very limited skills in such areas as financial management or program evaluation-a common combination in the non-profit sector. This skill gap inherently compromises the ability to improve and expand services to more clients. Donors and government agencies, for example, will be reluctant to dedicate significant resources to an enterprise with weak financial controls. Similarly, organizations that do not rigorously evaluate and measure the effectiveness of their programs have a hard time demonstrating the kind of tangible results that inspire donors.

In the Conclusion of the report it states the following:

Capacity building does matter, and it does make a difference in a non-profit’s ability to fulfill its aspirations. The sooner non-profits realize this and start accessing their capacity needs, and the sooner funders increase their support for capacity building efforts, the better off non-profits-society as a whole will be