What is capacity building?
Capacity building is the work of strengthening the
infrastructure of an organization so that it has the
capacity to provide its vital services as needed.
An organization has to assess its capacity to fulfill
its mission before it can make critical decisions. Does
it have an effective governance model in place? Does it
have a strong board whose members act as advocates for
the school in the community and who bring other
supporters to the table? Is the revenue stream of the
school diversified? Does it include not just tuition,
but fundraising and investment earnings as well? Does it
have the staff and systems in place to meet the needs of
the school? Are the finances sound? Does the head of
school have a solid understanding of what she needs to
know to make day to day and long-term decisions? These
are examples of capacity building questions.
Often, a school will launch a fundraising appeal or
begin a building campaign without taking a step back to
examine the structure in place to take on such a project
or the impact of the project on the overall strategic
vision of the school. The result is an appeal or
campaign that may raise some money, but may have raised
two or three times more if an investment in planning and
staff had been made up front.
There are many consultants who offer services such as
campaign feasibility studies and annual fund
segmentation, but these services alone are only
effective in the short-term. They are small projects
that should be part of a long-term plan to strengthen
the school well into the future.