The Benefits of Nonprofit Capacity Building


Capacity building is an investment in the effectiveness and future sustainability of your nonprofit organization–does your nonprofit have the ability to deliver according to its mission effectively now and is it prepared to do so in the future? 

Some examples of capacity building projects may include, identifying a new communications strategy, a different approach to volunteer recruitment, ensuring thoughtful leadership succession, and bringing your nonprofit up to speed with the latest technology. Each of these projects can help build a nonprofit’s capacity to deliver its mission. When capacity building is successful, it will strengthen your nonprofit’s ability to fulfill its mission and help to enhance the positive impact your nonprofit has on the lives and communities it serves.

Capacity building can be developed across multiple levels—individual (micro), organization (meso) or sector/network (macro) and often times, these levels are developed at the same time. For instance, at the individual micro level, programs may enhance people’s knowledge and behavior in ways that can strengthen culture, management practices and connections to other organizations (meso level) and then encourage overall participation in collective action networks (macro level). It can be helpful to look at capacity building from the perspective of who (e.g., people, organizations, networks), what (e.g., knowledge, skills, processes), and how (e.g., training, peer learning, technical assistance).

From a time management and impact on bandwidth perspective, capacity building initiatives fall into three categories; short-term planning and training, longer-term organizational effectiveness initiatives and sector-strengthening programs that encourage the exchange of information. Capacity building produces multiple benefits simultaneously, such as learning and peer interaction.

When looking at capacity building and nonprofit work in general, it can be difficult to not view capacity building, especially multiple forms of capital, as an additional task. However, when executing the program mindfully, building capital can occur through service delivery. A multiple-capitals approach to program design can help produce mission fulfillment and increase overall effectiveness of the organization. A multiple-capitals framework integrates planning, service delivery, evaluating, and reporting—in return, offering a smoother, integration of organizational activities and stakeholder accountability.

Capacity building is an important infrastructure that supports and shapes nonprofits success in helping the communities that serve. Capacity building enables nonprofit organizations and their leaders to develop competencies and skills that can make them more effective and sustainable, while increasing the potential for nonprofits to enrich lives and solve society’s most intractable problems.

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