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Capacity Building (Nonprofit)

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC

Capacity building has fast become a major topic among nonprofits and management support organizations (funders, associations, training centers, consultants, etc.) that provide services to nonprofits. There are a variety of definitions for capacity building. Perhaps the most fundamental definition is "actions that improve nonprofit effectiveness" (from Investing in Capacity Building by Barbara Blumenthal, published by The Foundation Center). Some other discussions about capacity building refer to the concept as actions that enhance a nonprofit's ability to work towards its mission.

The concept of capacity building in nonprofits is similar to the concept of organizational development, organizational effectiveness and/or organizational performance management in for-profits. Capacity building efforts can include a broad range of approaches, eg, granting operating funds, granting management development funds, providing training and development sessions, providing coaching, supporting collaboration with other nonprofits, etc. Prominent methods of organizational performance management in for-profits are beginning to be mentioned in discussions about capacity building, as well, for example, the Balanced Scorecard, principles of organizational change, cultural change, organizational learning, etc.

Information in this topic of the Library will acquaint you with the concept of capacity building in nonprofits, including offering you a broad background from some suggested previous readings, numerous perspectives on capacity building from numerous articles, and then review of various common functions in nonprofits (eg, boards, role of CEO, programs, marketing, fundraising, finances, evaluation, etc.). The topic closes with review of major methods of organizational performance management.

Sections of This Topic Include

Suggested Previous Readings
Articles About Capacity Building
Common Functions in Nonprofits
Organizational Performance Management Approaches
Shutting Down a Nonprofit

Also consider

Organizational Structures and Design
Organizational Change
Organizational Evaluations
Organizational Performance Management
Related Library Topics

Learn More in the Library's Blogs Related to Nonprofit Capacity Building

In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to Nonprofit Capacity Building. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

Library's Consulting and Organizational Development Blog
Library's Human Resources Blog
Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Project Management Blog
Library's Supervision Blog

Suggested Previous Readings

Performance Management: An Overview (basic concepts in performance management)
Introduction to Organizations (defines organizations, their basic parts, dimensions, life cycles, etc.)
Guidelines, Methods and Resources for Organizational Change Agents
Organizational Sustainability
An Overview of the Field of Organization Development

Articles About Capacity Building

There are an increasing number of publications about the general topic of nonprofit capacity building. The following list will help you to get you started. Some items on the list are not available as online articles and need to be ordered from the publisher.
Common Types of Capacity Building
Building Capacity in Nonprofit Organizations, Urban Institute Press (online and can take a while to download)
Effective Capacity Building in Nonprofit Organizations (online and can take a while to download)
How to "Do" Capacity Building, order from Council on Foundations.
Lessons from the Street: Capacity Building and Replication (online and can take a while to download)
Nonprofit Capacity Building Toolkit, order from Authenticity Consulting, LLC
Strengthening Nonprofit Organizations: A Funder's Guide to Capacity Building
Reactive Versus Planful Nonprofits
4 Rules of Non-Profit Capacity Building
An Extraordinary Model of Capacity Building
5 Reasons Why Culture is So Important to Your Nonprofit
Capacity Building Manual
Course 15: Creating Value in the Nonprofit Sector
Get Thy Nonprofit Self Into Therapy!
Delivering Training and Technical Assistance
Identifying and Promoting Effective Practices
Some Guiding Principles for Your 2012 Goals
Great Research for Nonprofits: Millennial Impact Report – Involve the 20-35 Year Olds
Meeting the Requirement for at Least 3 Proposals to Get Funding
My Concerns About the Use of “Templates”
Nonprofit Lifecycle Analysis
Strategic Planning – Make Sure that It Is a Call to Action

Common Functions in Nonprofits

The following links are to information about the major functions typically carried out in nonprofit organizations. An understanding of these functions is important to the success of capacity building efforts.
Preparation for Planning a New Venture
How to start nonprofit venture (everything you need to know to start a nonprofit)
Complete Free Toolkit for Boards
Role of Chief Executive
How to conduct nonprofit business planning (guidelines and samples)
How to conduct strategic planning (guidelines and samples)
Basic Guide to Program Design and Marketing (complete guidelines)
Advertising and Promotions (basics, guidelines and samples)
All About Marketing (basics, research, pricing, promoting, etc.
All About Sales (basics and advanced information)
Public and media relations (basics and advanced information)
Nonprofit Fundraising and Grantwriting
Free Online Guide to Staffing
Volunteer Management
Basic Guide to Managing Nonprofit Finances
Basic Guide to Program Evaluation

Organizational Change and Performance Management Approaches

The following approaches are some of the most common for enhancing the performance of an organization.
Balanced Scorecard
Cultural Change
Knowledge Management
Management by Objectives
Guidelines, Methods and Resources for Organizational Change Agents
Organizational Learning
Program Evaluation
Strategic Planning

Shutting Down a Nonprofit

There seems to be an increasing number of people who believe that, once a nonprofit has addressed the social need that it was started to meet, then it should shut down -- or "sunsetted."
Why Charities Should Have an Expiration Date
How Do You Shut Down a Nonprofit?
Thinking the Unthinkable -- Maybe We Should Shut Down
Closing Down the Right Way

For the Category of Capacity Building (Nonprofit):

To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

Related Library Topics

Recommended Books