What NGOs do – Capacity building
What NGOs do – Capacity building.
Some NGOs work to build up local organizations so that they can do more to support local people themselves. This is known as ‘capacity building.’
For instance, it might include helping small community groups come together and support their members or helping national NGOs or government institutions work better and grow.
When it works well, capacity building can help local organizations deliver relevant services on a sustainable basis to local people (including lobbying and assisting empowerment).
However, like all NGO activities, Capacity building brings challenges. In particular, it is hard for outsiders to understand local organizations’ operating context (both internal and external). It is also often hard to be sure who is driving the ‘capacity building’ process: the NGO assisting or the organization receiving it.
If the NGO providing assistance is driving the process, or if the capacity-building support is not relevant, then any organization built up may not keep going on its own.
Working with beneficiaries
Like other forms of NGO activity, capacity building must be based on local realities.
Usually, this is achieved when capacity building is led by local people, working in tune with local social or political processes. This may create organizations different from Western ideas about how people should work together. Like service delivery, outsiders can suggest ways of working – not impose them.
Effective capacity building also takes time and depends on respectful dialogue with the staff and stakeholders of the organization that is building itself up.
For example, HHF is a capacity-building organization. We suggest ideas and techniques about financial management, which we hope help NGOs use their funds more effectively.
Rebecca Ajibola, Board President