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The Center for Public Skills Training

Capacity Building Toolkit 1

The Capacity Building Toolkit has been designed to support nonprofit leaders who wish to engage in capacity building in a systematic way. The toolkit facilitates an organization’s engagement in the four Capacity Building Process “core activities” illustrated below.


This graphic illustrates the four core capacity building activities as parts of an ongoing sequence that repeats itself continuously; capacity building is an ongoing, never-ending process.

 Toolkit Components

This toolkit further outlines the four capacity building activity components, as illustrated in the graphic above, along with specific capacity building tools designed to guide an organization’s engagement in each of the four activities.

1. Assessment and Benchmarking. 

Asset based forms and processes have been designed to assist organizations in establishing their current status and goals for growth.  Organizations complete the assessment and use the results to develop action plan priorities and goals and measure progress.

CB Tool #1: Assessment and Benchmarking.  This tool is used to conduct an initial assessment of the organizational capacity of your association.  Completing this activity will enable you to establish capacity building benchmarks – a clear and detailed picture of the present level of organizational capacity with reference to the six  capacity elements: Mission, Vision and Strategy; Governance and Leadership; Service Delivery and Impact; Resource Development; Strategic Relationships; and Internal Operations and Management.  CB Tool #1 allows for benchmarking of capacity among four levels in each of these six areas. In the future, you will use CB Tool #1 again to reassess your association to determine any gains in organizational capacity.

Click here for more information about CB Tool #1: Assessment and Benchmarking

2. Action Planning. 

Using a format that aligns with the Tool #1, nonprofits complete action plans that prioritize growth areas and include goals and action steps.  The action plan guides the organizations use of resources to address priorities.

CB Tool #2: Capacity Building Action Planning.  This tool allows you and your CB Team to use the results of your initial capacity building assessment and benchmarking (CB Tool #1) to develop a plan of action for capacity building in your organization. The CB action plan will include priority areas for capacity building, measurable targets for improvement, and capacity building activities to achieve the hoped for gains.

3. Action Plan Implementation.

Based on the action plan, organizations engage in resource linkage, choosing from a range of options including capacity building resources available at the local, state and national levels.

CB Tool #3: Capacity Building Resource Inventory. The Capacity Building Resource Inventory offers organizations an extensive collection of web-based resources that will support capacity building efforts. The resources are organized according to the nine capacity elements. The Inventory will be very useful in creating as well as implementing your capacity building action plan. This inventory is currently being updated and will be available again when the updating is completed.

4. Reassessment and Learning. 

Organizations reassess their capacity periodically, comparing their capacity levels in the six element areas to their initial assessment.  They monitor, document and report their progress on action planning and capacity development.  This enables the association to learn about CB activities that contribute most to changes in capacity. 

CB Tool #4: Capacity Building Reassessment. The fourth tool in the Capacity Building Toolkit: Capacity Building Reassessment guides your nonprofit’s evaluation.

Success in Capacity Building

Strong leadership is one of the factors that ensure success in capacity building. Capacity building is a team sport that requires a board-staff leadership team.  Organizations that are serious about building capacity are advised to convene a team consisting, at a minimum, of the Executive Director/CEO, one other staff member selected by the ED and two board members, at least one of which is in a key leadership position.  This team will have primary responsibility for leading the organization’s engagement in the four core CB activities.  Additional board members and staff can also be involved and this is highly recommended.  There are several advantages to this group approach.  By sharing multiple perspectives on some of the problems and issues needed to be addressed it is less likely that problems will be misdiagnosed or that key issues will be overlooked.  Another advantage to the team is that more people will gain a deeper understanding of critical organization challenges that can be addressed through your capacity building efforts.

 1 This Capacity Building Action Planning Toolkit was originally developed by Frank Martinelli and Shelly Schnupp for use by local associations of the Great Lakes Alliance of the YWCA as part of the GLA Capacity Building Project.

Click to download this document as a Word file.

"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all." Peter F. Drucker  View Past Quotes

frank@createthefuture.com susan@createthefuture.com

2016 Creative Information Systems 

 In Association with Amazon.com

Revised: June 20, 2016