Capacity Building for Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizational capacity building
We need strong nonprofits

We need nonprofit organizations to be strong if they’re to make progress against their missions.  Organizational strength, aka “organizational capacity,” doesn’t just happen by itself.  It has to be developed, or built. 

The National Council of Nonprofits says this about it: “Capacity building is not just about the capacity of a nonprofit today — it’s about the nonprofit’s ability to deliver its mission effectively now, and in the future. Capacity building is an investment in the effectiveness and future sustainability of a nonprofit.”  They suggest that support for capacity building requires outside resources and support.  

In our own publication, Results of an Inquiry into Capacity Building Programs for Nonprofits, we detail why organizational capacity building for nonprofits is important and how it can done better.  

Effective Philanthropy

The publication presents the dynamics of successful capacity building efforts  We hope this presentation allows these dynamics to be taken more seriously.  Grantmakers can use these dynamics to increase the chances of success of the nonprofits they support.

Nonprofit Management

Capacity is the key to long-term sustainability. We hope that nonprofits will incorporate the elements of successful capacity building into their organizational planning  If nonprofits punch this up in their grant requests, foundations should recognize the merits of these efforts in their grant review process.

Community Development

Activists on nonprofit and philanthropic boards can help legitimize and advocate capacity building activities.  Discuss capacity building in your staff and board meetings.

Program Evaluation

Knowing what to look for is half the struggle of evaluation.  This publication illuminates the potential positive outcomes of capacity building activities.

For our own framework for understanding Organizational Capacity, see Building Organizational Capacity: A Simple Useful Framework

Download this publication here.  Results of an Inquiry into Capacity Building Programs for Nonprofit Programs (pdf)

Revised June 3, 2021

Originally appeared: Website of the Effective Communities Project

Number of pages: 15    Original date: February 2003

Author: Susan Doherty and Steven E. Mayer

Effective Communities Project
Minneapolis, MN

Originally appeared: Website of the Effective Communities Program