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Jul 3, 2012

Capacity building needs of nonprofits are changing

The Readers of the Nonprofit Quarterly discussion group in LinkedIn recently posted this question: We would love to know your thoughts about how capacity building needs of nonprofits are changing.

I agree that too many consultants have jumped on the bandwagon with packaged solutions. Oddly, nonprofits seem to buy packaged solutions more readily than ongoing counseling engagements.

Nevertheless, capacity building has lost some of its meaning. The real issue is that nonprofits need to continually reinvest in their management and planning. With the reduced terms of many grants, nonprofits are having to confront what to do with grants and government contracts that are money-losers when costs are fully allocated.

I believe that nonprofits need to think more. I see too many CEOs consumed with daily operational detail and board meetings consumed with reports on last month’s results. There needs to be more thinking ahead, and time spent by the CEO and boards on thinking about the future and how to prepare for it.

The worst situation is when a nonprofit hires a consultant for strategic planning and the CEO is too busy to spend time on the project so that the final product is a report prepared by the consultant. Money spent with no development of the thinking process within the organization.

So capacity building needs to move away from its definition as a product or project and return to the real problem: spending more time thinking about the next five years.

To help you think more strategically, reread the sections on Strategic Planning and Leadership in More Than Just Money (pp.49-55) and on Planning and Priorities in Linking Mission to Money, Second Edition (pp.5-24). Or contact me directly to talk about the many ways I can help you to thinkstrategically so your nonprofit can become financially sustainable.