Activities that you might use to expand your organisation or to change its direction.

The terms ‘capacity building’ or ‘capacity development’ describe a range of activities you might use to expand your organisation or change direction. The concept is commonly used for overseas development in NGOs, but the principles, ideas and practice relate to any non profit organisation.

The United Nations has defined capacity as ‘the ability of individuals, institutions, and societies to perform functions, solve problems and set and achieve objectives in a sustainable manner.’ That is the basis of any well-functioning organisation.

Capacity building remains one of the most challenging functions of development. It means you need to invest time and energy to assess the following areas.

Fundamentals of the organisation

The underlying framework of any organisation holds the rationale for its existence. This framework is often written as a mission statement, aims, or ‘why we are here’. A useful way to think about this is to define your ‘primary task’:

  • Why are we here, what do we add that no-one else does?
  • What do we think is the main function of our organisation?

A clear definition of your primary task can help your board, staff and stakeholders to identify with the organisation .