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Capacity Building Services

Simply put, capacity building is the ability of nonprofit organizations to fulfill their missions in an effective manner. Among the challenges that arise is the fact that most nonprofit organizations in Texas, like elsewhere “are small and possess limited resources, particularly when measured against the challenges and critical issues that they address.[1]” “Building the capacity of community-based organizations and the nonprofit sector is not a simple task. There is no magic formula that guarantees success, and little agreement exists on where to begin or what to do. Instead, the process of creating and maintaining a robust and effective nonprofit sector exemplifies the tensions and trade-offs that individuals and organizations face when adapting to change. It is through this dynamic process that organizations, like people, learn to adapt and grow to their full potential.”[2]

There is an extensive and growing literature defining and outlining “capacity building”.  Resources are available at the National Council of Nonprofit’s website.

Carter McNamara of Authenticity Consulting, in his Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development With Nonprofits notes there are numerous approaches to providing capacity building services, including, but not limited to:

  • Providing access to repositories of information and resources (for example, databases, libraries and web sites)
  • Publications
  • Trainings (public, customized or on-line)
  • Consultation (for example, coaching, facilitating, expert advice and conducting research)
  • Coordinating alliances
McNamara also identifies Common Types of Capacity Building Services.  Though not exhaustive, he identifies:
  • Assessments
  • Board development
  • Business planning
  • Business development
  • Collaboration planning
  • Conflict resolution
  • Convening
  • Earned-income development
  • Evaluation
  • Facilities planning
  • Financial management
  • Funding
  • Fundraising
  • Information technology
  • Leadership development
  • Legal
  • Management development
  • Marketing (research, promotions)
  • Meeting management
  • Mergers
  • Networking opportunities
  • Organizational development
  • Peer learning
  • Program design
  • Project management
  • Quality management
  • Referrals
  • Research
  • Risk management
  • Staffing (selection, development)
  • Strategic planning
  • Team building

[1] DeVita, Carol J. & Cory Fleming, eds., Building Capacity in Nonprofit Organizations. The Urban Institute. 2001, pp. 2

[2] DeVita, Carol J. & Cory Fleming, eds., Building Capacity in Nonprofit Organizations. The Urban Institute. 2001, pp.6