The Importance of Capacity Building and How It Can Be Encouraged

In the last few few years there has been an increased emphasis on the importance of capacity building to Non-profit organisations (NPO) in order to promote sustainable development. The term ‘capacity building’ defined as enabling non-profit leaders and organisations develop skills, knowledge, capabilities and resources to make their work more effective.

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Why capacity building is crucial in NPOs
Much like other businesses, non-profit organisations also need to focus on building the capacity of their entire system. To do this, it’s vital that the management and staff raise the importance of capacity building and bring it on par with programme development. But to do this, an extensive action plan to target the right sectors and build the correct skills over time needs to be implemented.

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Strategize The Right Way
Capacity building is one of the most challenging functions of development and can be difficult to plan. Ask these five questions, before organising such a program.
● Whose capacity are you trying to improve?
● What capacities are you building and why?
● When should you build these capacities?
● Who should handle the capacity building program?
● How will you know if you have succeeded?
Finding the answer to these questions can make a big difference in your attempt to build your team’s capacity.

Here are five areas you can focus on to strengthen the NPO
1. Mission and Vision
The first step to strengthening and improving your organisation is to create fundamentals for your company. To that end, ask yourself and your people these questions,
• What is the main function of your organisation?
• Why are you there and what can you bring to the table that’s different from everybody else?

Finding the answer to these questions will give you a clear definition of your organization and will help your staff, board, and stakeholders identify with it. Once you have a clear goal, you will have a better strategy to work with. Strategies help to provide focus for decision making and stand as a yardstick to judge whether a new project suits your strategy.

2. Structuring
Addressing issues dealing with the organisational structure for your NPO can go a long way in strengthening it. You can effectively manage this by assigning clear responsibilities and roles, creating new teams, and spinning off existing ones. However, structuring won’t be of any help, unless the organisational design helps support your infrastructure, systems, human resources, and also your skills, strategies, and aspirations.

3. Culture
Culture is an important part of capacity building and it is a necessity in NPOs, more so than in regular businesses. It’s vital that you contribute enough resources and efforts to accommodate the demands of your organisation’s culture. This culture will hold your organisation together and if your workplace environment is inviting, there’s a good chance you will attract more employees. Make changes to the culture in ways that will build positivity in the workplace, among your staff and volunteers.

4. Accounting, Financial Control, and Auditing
It goes without saying that finance is the lifeblood of any NPO and hence it is vital that this branch is added in the workplace, along with capacity building exercises. Workshops on finance and accounting will give everyone in the organisation a sound skill set in financial management. This process will help employees lead the organisation well and implement projects effectively.

5. Communication
For holistic capacity building, NPOs should have their staff trained on various methods of external communication with stakeholders. This becomes especially important with respect to fundraising communication. Ideally, communication training should cover approaching, signing & retaining donors, corporates or grant making bodies. The communication team should also be well versed in writing concept notes, proposals and pitch documents.

At Vardaan, we have learnt the following lessons in successful capacity building cases:

1. Capacity building has impact on performance
2. Proactive approach to Capacity Building is needed
3. All round efforts are neeed in Capacity Building
4. Capacity building has rub off effects from one area to another
5. Capacity Building must be driven from top

And finally our top three advice to make Capacity Building a success:

1. Resetting aspiration & strategy is the first step towards a dramatic improvement
2. Without leadership & Management, capacity building is not possible
3. Patience, patience & more patience…

Capacity building can really help an NPO achieve its goals and objectives in the best possible way. So get started today!