What is Capacity Building?


Capacity Building is the ability of nonprofit organizations to fulfill their missions in an effectively. Small nonprofits are quite often faced with limited resources. It also relates to the overall quality of life in the communities nonprofit organizations serve. 

Capacity Building is an investment in the effectiveness and  sustainability of your nonprofit. It should strengthen your nonprofit’s ability to fulfill its Mission and enhance your ability to have a true and lasting impact on your community and cause.

Capacity Building projects include projects like identifying a communications strategy, improving volunteer recruitment, updating technology, on-going training of staff and volunteers, and improving how you measure outcomes of your programs.


It’s not just about the capacity of your nonprofit as it exists currently, it’s about your ability to deliver on your Mission now and in the future. Capacity Building refers to many different types of activities designed to improve and enhance your ability to achieve your Mission and sustain itself in the future. Nonprofit organizations enable people to take an active role and contribute to the overall well-being of their community. And, they provide a basis for forming socia networks that build relationships and link individuals to a common cause. 

According to the National Council of Nonprofits (www.councilofnonprofits.org) Capacity Building can also be defined as:

Capacity building is whatever is needed to bring a nonprofit to the next level of operational, programmatic, financial or organizational maturity, so it may more effectively and efficiently advance its mission into the future. Capacity building is not a one-time effort to improve short-term effectiveness, but a continuous improvement strategy toward the creation of a sustainable and effective organization.

Many small, community based organizations are fragile and stretched to their limits. They often lack the capacity and technical expertise to keep up with change and opportunities for growth.

Get involved with your state association of nonprofits; their focus is helping build the capacity of other charitable nonprofit in your state. Joining your state association opens up ways to learn about all of the capacity building opportunities available locally. These associations offer workshops and training opportunities for board and staff as well as networking with other nonprofit leaders to learn peer-to-peer, collaborate, and stay up-to-date with recommended practices and new trends.

Capacity Building is the important “infrastructure” that supports and shapes nonprofits into forces of good. It enables your nonprofit and leaders to develop skills and knowledge that build a more effective and sustainable organization, thus increasing the potential to have a bigger impact and enrich the lives of your community.

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