by Megan MacDavey, Program Officer
This post picks up where my last one leaves off, discussing the findings from the foundation's recent capacity building landscape scan.
As I was in the midst of interviewing people for this landscape scan, I submerged myself in some capacity building publications and resources. I kept wondering if there was anything that was missing from the conversation that might help to inform our work moving forward. I spent a lot of time with some great resources from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Grantcraft, Venture Philanthropy Partners, and the TCC Group, to name a few.
The TCC Group's briefing paper, "Capacity Building 3.0: How to Strengthen the Social Ecosystem" gave me a great framework for thinking about the bigger picture of capacity building. The paper challenges readers to think beyond the traditional focus of capacity building on growing the knowledge and skills of individual leaders and on nonprofit organizations as the sole entity in need of enhanced capacity. Instead, the TCC Group shares a "Capacity Building 3.0" model that embraces "organizational actualization" as the overarching goal. This equates to capacity building that grows an organization both internally and externally, and that doesn't neglect the other entities that are important to the capacity of the nonprofit sector, like foundations, government, business, and networks.
The idea of supporting an organization in its ability to respond to the changing environment around them really resonated with me, and I think captures well what many of the folks I interviewed were describing. Here's a brief excerpt from the report describing how the findings from the scan line up with this model:
"Many of the responses [from the interviews] focused on nonprofit capacity from an individual leader (CB 1.0) or organization perspective (CB 2.0). Leadership and organizational development are essential components of capacity building; however the TCC Group helps us see that the lens we use to execute these capacity building elements must include a broader, systems-level perspective. This was reflected in points raised by interviewees stressing the new skill sets required of leaders (e.g., change management), and the new activities required of organizations (e.g., collaboration) in light of the immense changes facing nonprofits...
There are other elements of CB 3.0 that are fundamental to this framework, but that arose rarely in the interviews, including: program or organizational evaluation, advocacy, and support for movements. While it was clear that many funders interviewed continually monitor their own internal capacity and areas for growth, there was little discussion of the capacity of other key players that influence the nonprofit sector's health (e.g., businesses and government). These - and other opportunities not yet identified - suggest the need to pay attention to the broader framework within which we work."
As Tracy described in her 2015 year-end post, we are on track to continue "reflecting" this year on important and challenging topics, like how we support our grantees' capacity. For our foundation, that means better understanding the existing capacity building resources and major opportunities - which we have captured in our report - and also gathering the perspectives of our partners, the grantees, through a survey. My next blog post(s) on this topic will be to share the findings from the survey that will soon be sent out to our nonprofit partners, and to react to how they align, or do not align, with what was captured in the report. Once again, stay tuned! And, as always, drop me a line with any feedback.
"Beaulieu National Motor Museum 18-09-2012"
(CC by 2.0) photo by Karen Roe