Capacity building is not just about improving your nonprofit’s ability to deliver on mission today — it’s about your organization’s ability to deliver now and beyond. Capacity building is an deliberate investment in your organization’s effectiveness, future sustainability and social impact.
Undertaking a critical assessment of your current operations and identifying the strategic building blocks needed to move your organization forward are two fundamental elements of a capacity building plan.
Capacity building plans may also identify upgrading your nonprofit’s technology, integrating marketing and communication strategies, improving volunteer recruitment and retention, developing leadership succession plans, and improving outcomes measurements and impact analysis. When strengthened, these and other functional areas of your nonprofit together build the capacity to effectively deliver on your mission and ensure sustainability over time.
While effective fundraising enables nonprofits to deploy resources, it’s important to take a holistic approach to organizational development and capacity building.
Additionally, it is important to be acutely aware of the broader ecosystem your organization lives.
James F. Moore coined the term “business ecosystem” in an Harvard Business Review article, Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition, 1993; and spoke to the stages of business evolution:
“In a business ecosystem, companies co-evolve capabilities around a new innovation: they work cooperatively and competitively to support new products, satisfy customer needs, and eventually incorporate the next round of innovations.”
Certainly this definition is relevant in a nonprofit context when creating developing capabilities to form strategic collaborations, funding partners, leveraging consultants, engaging volunteers, attracting clients, or executing sector best practice.
Moore also asserted, “Successful businesses are those that evolve rapidly and effectively. Yet innovative businesses can’t evolve in a vacuum. They must attract resources of all sorts, drawing in capital, partners, suppliers, and customers to create cooperative networks.” For a nonprofit, innovation may come in forms of service, program or research, and its delivery models crossover nonprofit and private sectors.
When nonprofits thrive in a healthy ecosystem and are deliberate in capacity building over time, it strengthens a nonprofit’s ability to deliver its mission.