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 see
Related Library Topics

Also See 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.)
Organizational Change (basic guidelines for carrying out organizational change)
Organizational Sustainability
Organization Development -- The Profession

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)
Building the Capacity of Capacity Builders
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
Philanthropic Capacity Building Resources (PCBR) Database
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 Business 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
Organizational Change
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

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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 - Capacity Building

Starting a Nonprofit Organization

Overall Capacity Building to Enhance an Established Nonprofit Organization

Starting a Nonprofit Organization

Nonprofit Program Design, Marketing and Evaluation - Book Cover Field Guide to Nonprofit Program Design, Marketing and Evaluation
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. The most important aspect of starting a new nonprofit is designing your first program -- the reason for your new nonprofit. Your new nonprofit is built around the success of your first program. Too many books completely separate the highly integrated activities of planning, marketing and evaluating programs. This book integrates all three into a comprehensive, straightforward approach that anyone can follow in order to provide high-quality programs with strong appeal to funders. Includes many online forms that can be downloaded.
Developing, Operating and Restoring Your Nonprofit Board - Book Cover Field Guide to Developing, Operating and Restoring Your Nonprofit Board
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Provides step-by-step, highly practical guidelines to organize, operate and sustain high-quality nonprofit Boards -- and to fix a broken Board! Includes variety of Board models you can choose from, roles and responsibilities, how to get the best members, how to train and organize them, goals for standard committees, ensuring high-quality meetings, evaluating Boards, how to evaluate and/or replace the Executive Director, and much more! Includes many sample Board policies you can download! Written by the developer of the Free Management Library. Many materials in this Library's topic about Boards are adapted from this book. 30-day, money-back, guarantee!

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a convenient search window is included below the rows of boxes.

Overall Capacity Building to Enhance an Established Nonprofit Organization

Consulting and Organization Development With Nonprofits - Book Cover Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development With Nonprofits
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Provides complete, step-by-step guidelines to identify complex issues in nonprofit organizations and successfully resolve each of them. This book is also helpful to organizations that are doing fine now, but want to evolve to the next level of performance. This is one of the truly comprehensive, yet practical, books about this complex subject! Includes online forms that can be downloaded. Many materials in this Library's topic about guiding change are adapted from this comprehensive book.
Venture Forth - Book Cover Venture Forth! The Essential Guide to Starting a Money-Making Business in Your Nonprofit Organization
by Rolfe Larson, published by Fieldstone Alliance. Provide step-by-step guidelines to identify and implement the best ideas to generate more revenue to further your nonprofit mission. Ideas can come from current or new services -- many nonprofits are already providing critical services from which they could generate more revenue. The movement of social entrepreneurship, including earned-income generation, is becoming a must for every nonprofit to consider. Many funders greatly appreciate nonprofits generating more income -- this book shows you how!
Coping With Cutbacks - Book Cover Coping with Cutbacks -- The Nonprofit Guide to Success When Times Are Tight
by Emil Angelica and Vincent Hyman, published by Fieldstone Alliance. This treasure trove helps nonprofits to consider a very wide range of practical ideas for addressing financial shortfalls in their nonprofit organization. Every nonprofit, not just those in financial trouble, should be doing financial contingency planning -- planning for what they will do if they do not get the revenue that they expect from fees and fundraising. This book gives you plenty of ideas!
Strengthening Nonprofit Performance - Book Cover Strengthening Nonprofit Performance -- A Funder's Guide to Capacity Building
by Paul Connolly and Carol Lukas, published by Fieldstone Alliance. Provides step-by-step guidelines for funders to plan and develop highly effective capacity building services for nonprofits in their area. Many funders are finding that it's not enough just to write checks -- nonprofits need highly accessible, low-cost means of support and guidance to use the funder's resources to enhance organizational performance. This book explains common types of capacity building, key criteria for any successful capacity building program, and how to set up the best capacity building program.
Nonprofit Strategic Planning and Facilitation - Book Cover Field Guide to Nonprofit Strategic Planning and Facilitation
by Carter McNamara, published by Authenticity Consulting, LLC. Step-by-step guidelines to customize and facilitate planners to implement the best strategic planning process to suit the particular nature and needs of their nonprofit. This is one of the few books, if any, that explains how to actually facilitate planning. Includes many online forms that can be downloaded and used by planners.

The following books are recommended because of their highly practical nature and often because they include a wide range of information about this Library topic. To get more information about each book, just click on the image of the book. Also, a convenient search window is included below the rows of boxes.

Also See

Organizational Development (Managing Change) -- Recommended Books

Strategic Planning -- Recommended Books

Social Entrepreneurship (Nonprofit) -- Recommended Books

Capacity Building (Nonprofit) -- Recommended Books

Fundraising -- Recommended Books

Program Management -- Recommended Books

Planning and Project Management -- Recommended Books

Leading -- Recommended Books

Volunteers -- Recommended Books

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