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Capacity Building for Nonprofits: Five Strategies To Get Started and Get Funded

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Capacity building for nonprofits is a strategy that focuses on developing organizational skills, processes, or systems with the intent of improving organizational performance, efficiency, and ability to innovate and grow. These are all critical components of effective service to your community. 

The best way to ensure that your organization stays afloat for the long term is by strengthening its foundation and building its ability to meet your mission consistently. 

But building capacity is a process that doesn’t require an expensive, upfront investment. Your organization can build capacity slowly over time, through small actions and with limited funds.

Here are five strategies to get your organization’s capacity-building efforts started – and funded!

Capacity building for nonprofits is like moving pieces of a puzzle! In this image, a woman's hands hold two brown puzzle pieces, one above the other, against a neutral bokeh background.


Know Your Options

The capacity-building process starts with gaining a better understanding of what you want to achieve in your organization. What is your mission? What do you hope to accomplish by building more capacity? How will you define success? 

Consider these questions when you consider the many ways in which you could begin to build capacity. Your options might include developing or implementing new systems that allow for greater efficiency, structuring staff roles to avoid personnel burnout, or cutting programs or services that contribute to mission drift.

Consult Your Stakeholders

The trick to successful capacity building that actually strengthens your organization’s foundation is to correctly identify the areas where you’ll need to grow in order to fulfill your mission. No one person will be able to accurately identify these areas, and you’ll need everyone’s buy-in to move forward successfully.

Your staff and your community will have the most valuable insight, as they are closest to the work being done. And since capacity building addresses the fundamental inputs and outputs of your organization, you’ll need the insight, expertise, and support of your full board throughout this process. 

Invest In Staff

One of the best ways you can build capacity is by investing in the skills of your staff. Ensuring they have the training and support they need to do their work effectively will increase morale and productivity across the board. 

Here are four ways you can empower personnel with the tools they need, even with limited resources:

  • Arrange mentoring from another experienced nonprofit professional.
  • Offer training on skills like time management or project management.
  • Provide basic fundraising training for all staff so everyone can feel able and ready to help market and fundraise for your organization.
  • Partner with an educational institution that offers professional development or other training courses. 

Collaborate With Another Organization

Collaboration amongst nonprofits is one of the best ways to increase your output and your impact. There are lots of different ways you can partner with other organizations, including co-hosting events or delivering programs together. Partnering is great for capacity building because you’ll be sharing staff, splitting any direct costs, and sharing skills and expertise across your two nonprofits.

This kind of capacity building can increase an organization’s sustainability, which leads to greater social impact. 

Now – Get Funded!

So you’ve got your options – but how do you get them funded? 

An organization can get funded by applying for capacity building grants for nonprofits. Look for funders who aren’t afraid to invest in overhead, and be prepared to outline exactly how building capacity for your nonprofit will result in better outcomes for the community you serve. 

When you’re looking to raise funds for overhead or more administrative expenses – like the ones usually associated with capacity building – unrestricted funding from individual donors is often the best way to go.

Organize a targeted fundraising campaign, event, or even a capital campaign to launch your initiative. 

Join NPO Centric’s membership program for more resources on capacity building and getting your nonprofit funded! >>