The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) defines capacity development as the process through which individuals, organisations, and societies obtain, strengthen, and maintain the capabilities to set and achieve their own development objectives over time.
Capacity development is about growing an individual’s or organisation’s knowledge, skills and experience and can help build leadership; strategic planning; fundraising and financial management; communication strategies; human resources; governance and accountability; and empowerment. It is an organic process that helps a person, group or organisation to evolve. It can be supported or facilitated, but can neither be imposed nor controlled. The success or failure of cooperation in capacity development depends on the insight and leadership of the individuals involved and their ability to help navigate their respective organisations through complex and often unfamiliar terrain. The end aim is a learning organisation that is able to reflect critically on what happens inside and outside the organisation and respond proactively to changing circumstances.
This key list draws together a selection of existing resources on capacity development with detailed information on understanding the capacity development process, including organisational assessment; key issues such as change management, building capacity in fundraising, financial management, communication strategies, human resources, empowerment, sustainability, governance and accountability; planning, monitoring and evaluation of capacity development activities; and building the relationship between organisations and NGOs
A brief and very accessible guide to fundraising, primarily developed for NGOs and project managers. Fundraising is an essential component of an organisation's strategic management and its professional profile. The document discusses the three processes involved in fundraising, the process of professionalism (establishing an organisation), the planning of a project and finding money for the project
“This guide provides an overview of financial management and the practical tools that can help build the financial capacity of non-profit organisations. Using case studies to demonstrate good practice, it offers practical advice in how to work with a partner organisation to build financial capacity. Intended for managers and trustees of non-profit organisations, the guide provides tools and techniques for using financial skills to improve organisational and programme management. enabling them to build their own financial systems. It is also of use to those assessing another organisation's financial capacity”
This guide provides an overview, and the benefits of, UNDP’s approach to developing and assessing capacity. It details methods by which to assess capacity and capacity development needs, providing operational guidelines and capacity development strategies. It provides UNDP and other development practitioners with step-by-step guide using the UNDP default” Capacity Assessment Framework and Supporting Tool", including detailed examples of topics and questions to ask, when conducting a capacity assessment. The UNDP’s approach is presented in the Practice Notes which should be used in conjunction with the User’s Guide
"This paper explores the use of organisational development (OD) for capacity building of community-based organisations (CBOs) in South Africa. The author works for Community Connections, a South African non-profit support organisation which predominantly provides support to CBOs and community workers. In 2004, the organisation initiated an OD pilot programme, which has been accompanied by research for a doctoral thesis from this year. The aims of the pilot programme and the research are to examine in what ways OD facilitation can support the capacity building of CBOs, and hence contribute to community development and civil society strengthening. This paper presents initial reflections"
Praxis Note No. 18
This is a self-help manual for local non-governmental organisations seeking to strengthen their capacity to increase programme impact through good organisational practice. The introduction and each of the nine chapters is available to download separately
This report presents a series of narratives aims to capture the national and local institutional transformations, led and driven by the institutions themselves, that UNDP has supported over the years at the country level. These stories have been collated and synthesised by the UNDP Capacity Development Group, drawing on data and narratives provided mainly by UNDP Country Offices in each region. Each narrative clearly outlines the situation, response and results
This paper discusses how coaching and mentoring practices are increasingly used as tools within the civil society sector. This is in line with the trend towards ongoing capacity-building processes rather than one-off events, informed by an increasingly people-centred and ‘holistic’ approach to capacity building. The paper examines a range of practitioners’ experiences of using mentoring and coaching with leaders of CSOs in a range of contexts, including Kenya, Tanzania, Kazakhstan, Uganda, Bosnia, South Africa, Malawi and the UK
Praxis Paper series No. 4
PO Box 221
The aim of this guide is to share information, tools and tips that might help small and diaspora organisations strengthen the governance of their organisation. It provides a toolkit that starts by highlighting the benefits of effective governance, then looks at four key themes: 1) Understanding governance; 2) Key sector references, in the UK voluntary sector, regarding legal obligations, guiding principles, and standards; 3) Managing the board; and 4) The ‘relational’ dynamics - dealing with the human dimension of governance. The toolkit then provides some practical tips, based on key lessons learnt by small and diaspora NGOs
A user-friendly and practical guide on how to build and run a small non-governmental organisation (NGO). This manual aims to build good practice into NGOs, and to help recognise, address and solve a range of problems. The manual covers all key aspects of running a small organisation, including identifying mission and purpose, planning, getting legal status, building sustainability, monitoring and evaluation, financial management and fundraising. Each section includes exercises and useful examples. This publication is intended for those starting an NGO and also for small organisations seeking to improve their performance and effectiveness
This paper investigates the issue of capacity building, drawing on the experiences shared by capacity building practitioners through the INTRAC Praxis Programme over the past four years. “This DGIS-supported programme encouraged capacity building practitioners to reflect on, learn from and disseminate their experiences in the field, in attempt to discover what works and what does not in building capacity. Written by practitioners from diverse contexts on a wide variety of themes…this paper syntheses the learning - that “to build capacity effectively, stakeholders need to articulate more clearly and negotiate a shared understanding of capacity building. This understanding should be rooted in the specific context and culture in which it takes place. We have to mitigate the inherent obstacles to capacity building in the aid system as far as possible. We also need to appreciate the degree of difficulty entailed in building capacity”
Praxis Paper series No. 18
This report draws on the author’s practical experience in the field suggesting some pragmatic ways to deal with the dilemmas often faced by organisations when monitoring and evaluating capacity building. The author suggests starting simple, focusing on what is feasible and doing it [capacity building] in such a way as to reinforce NGO ownership of that capacity building
Praxis Note n°49
LenCD is an informal and open network of individuals and organisations that share a common interest in improving capacity development practice. The network aims to promote and facilitate sharing of lessons and learning on capacity development and promote changes for better practice at the global, regional and local levels
This paper is based on a literature review and interviews with a range of capacity building providers based in the North and South examining both theory and current practice of capacity development, and discusses some of the key barriers to progress. “Primarily concerned with capacity building within civil society organisations (CSOs), although many of the lessons apply equally to organisations in the commercial or state sectors... it begins by looking at some key concepts in both capacity building and monitoring and evaluation (M&E). It examines different ways of thinking about M&E, and describes a variety of different tools and approaches used to plan, monitor and evaluate capacity building work. It goes on to discuss M&E in relation to donors and provides an outline of current practice, based on the interviews. Finally, it highlights key areas for further discussion, and presents some conclusions based on the research”
Praxis Paper No. 23
This toolkit can be used to identify the capacity building needs of NGOs, plan technical support interventions and monitor and evaluate the impact of capacity building. The toolkit is aimed at people and organisations that support NGOs and CBOs responding to HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Including NGO support programmes, training institutions and individual trainers
This directory presents management tools and information for nonprofits worldwide in the following categories: general resources, organisational development, performance management, managing finances, developing human resources, communication and marketing
This short guide aims to guide non-governmental organisations (NGOs) through a four-step analysis of capacity. Known as a SWOT exercise, this tool has been found to be useful in many NGOs and stands for the "Strengths" and "Weaknesses" within your organisation; plus factors outside your organisation that offer "Opportunities" or pose "Threats." The guide enables NGOs to lead themselves through the SWOT exercise and make, implement, evaluate and monitor the resulting strategic action plan
This paper explores the importance of organisational learning in NGOs drawing on examples gathered from interviews mainly with Northern NGO staff and from an extensive review of the literature. It examines NGOs' need to provide the motive, means and opportunity for organisational learning, introduces practical examples of how pioneering NGOs are doing this and suggests ways to combine these elements in planned and emergent organisational strategies for learning. The paper concludes that, although much has been written on the conceptual frameworks for organisational learning and knowledge management, learning and knowledge management are understood differently across cultures and contexts and that most current models are based on a Western understanding, presenting concerns about how to translate these theories into practice. There is therefore a need to engage with capacity building practitioners to explore innovative approaches which are relevant, appropriate and accessible across a wide range of cultures and contexts
Praxis Paper No. 3
A critical focus of development projects in countries transitioning to democracy has become the strengthening of civil society. Providing an effective capacity building training programme necessarily begins with a thorough and reliable identification of the potentials, weaknesses and needs of local civil society entities. The method detailed in this section of the guide proposes a seven step process to help civil society organisations improve their governance processes. Compared to many other civil society programmes, it takes a wide view of civil society, working with more than just formally registered NGOs. It focuses on certain functions that civil society groups can perform in a good governance system rather than their legal forms. In addition there is brief guidance on the method, advice on the purpose of the method and who should use it, and a two examples to help users of the method
Note: The full guide is available to download from the link above
This database offers materials for development practitioners both out in the field and engaged in policy making and research. It covers a broad range of topics in the areas of strengthening, and development of civil society as well as well as materials designed to inform and stimulate debate on aid and development policy and practice. In addition to Intrac’s own material, the website acts as a hub that brings together useful material from other organisations. Users can comment on resources, and read reviews from other users
This paper “offers a brief overview of current thinking and practice in relation to the impact assessment of organisational capacity building interventions. The paper highlights some of the conceptual, methodological and practical challenges (issues of clarity, power and culture, among others) and then goes on to provide an overview of some of the practical approaches that have been adopted by NGOs and CSOs to overcome these challenges. A ‘thought piece’ designed to engage practitioners (particularly those from developing and transitional countries) in a fruitful debate, it identifies the key challenges towards which INTRAC could most usefully focus its future efforts. These include the need to improve understanding of the particular characteristics of the impact assessment of organisational capacity building and to generate and document innovative, adaptable and accessible approaches. A final challenge is to consider how to raise the profile of impact assessment for organisational capacity building practitioners, so that it is viewed as a vital tool to assist organisational learning, rather than a time-consuming and costly burden”
Praxis Paper n°2
The Rural Finance and Investment Learning Centre (RFILC) is a web platform dedicated to the dissemination of cutting-edge knowledge for the promotion of rural and agricultural finance and investment in developing countries. It provides access to related materials for capacity development and policy design, in addition to the dissemination of news, events and multimedia
Target clients include all public and private organisations working towards greater financial inclusion and rural and agricultural development, such as financial institutions, governments, civil society organisations, development agencies and academia, among others. Materials such as training manuals, policy guides, and on-line training sessions are disseminated through the RFILC with the purpose of further developing clients’ capacity to deliver improved financial services that meet the needs of rural enterprises and households
“This user-friendly workbook is a step-by-step guide for administrators and managers of non-governmental organizations conducting programs in developing countries to define and develop their organizational mission statements, identify programmatic priorities and areas of focus, make effective use of resources, maximize opportunities and minimize obstacles, and market themselves to potential funders. The goal of this workbook is to make strategic planning a more accessible and enjoyable undertaking for organizations”
“This cross national analysis is based on national studies made by research teams in India, Kenya, Romania and South Africa. It aims to draw out the lessons learnt from successful social development processes in these countries. In each country, studies have been made of projects identified as interesting, successful and/or outstanding in the way they have improved the quality of life of people with intellectual disabilities. This comparative report briefly describes the national studies, from which the respective teams made their own national conclusions and continues with across national analysis attempting to identify circumstances or factors that are common to these successful projects. Finally, the report summarises the conclusions and their implications”
“The Capacity Development Results Framework (CDRF or the Framework) is a powerful new approach to the design, implementation, monitoring, management, and evaluation of development programs... [It] can be profitably applied to assess the feasibility and coherence of proposed development projects, to monitor projects during implementation (with a view to taking corrective action), or to assess the results, or even the design, of completed projects. The framework can also be used as a step-by-step guide to the planning, implementation, and evaluation of projects and programs designed to build capacity for development at a national or sub-national level”
This paper reviews what makes for good practice in governance and operations, and what determines "partnership effectiveness… what factors determine the extent to which the partnership objectives are achieved; and, what makes some partnerships work better and deliver more added value than others. The paper summarizes two literature reviews that were commissioned, aiming to: a) synthesise the evidence for the determinants of effective partnership from the existing evaluation literature for the major GHPs; and b) from the wider business and political science field and finds good (and less good) practices that results in more (or less) effective partnerships"
Study paper No. 6 of the 2004 DFID Study: Global Health Partnerships [GHP]: Assessing the Impact
This publication is in three parts: Part 1 is a short book that describes the generic partnering process from inception to conclusion. Part 2 is in the form of ‘stand alone’ tools to enable practitioners to develop effective partnerships. Part 3 includes more information about the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the issues around food fortification and case studies selected to be locally appropriate for each of the different language versions
The resource provides the introductory chapter of a "manual for the use of trainers of facilitators who want to manage a four-day course in ‘Resource Mobilization for Civil Society Organizations in the South’. This Manual provides the core text of the handbook, plus suggestions for how each section of the course can be presented. It contains the hard copy to be made into overheads to assist the facilitator in his/her work. It also contains copies of all the handouts ready for photocopying. Finally, it provides suggestions for the exercises to be used in the course”
This report aims "to provide governments, civil society, industry, academia and other groups with an insight into the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) by persons with disabilities to access information and knowledge around the world; To present an overview and critical assessment of existing information policies and strategies as well as challenges and advantages in using ICTs to access information and knowledge for persons with disabilities; To identify practices at local, national and global levels on effective application of ICTs by persons with disabilities to access information and knowledge; To foster future frameworks on the use of ICTs to access information and knowledge of persons with disabilities (PWD); and Based on the best available information and analysis, to make recommendations for strategy formulation, action-oriented initiatives and new synergies at national, regional and international levels"
Understanding capacity development
"This primer addresses the basic elements of the UNDP approach to capacity development. It provides a simple, cogent and accessible illustration of the UNDP Capacity Development Approach for the benefit of development practitioners both within and beyond the UN development system – a real-world guide to real-world applications to strengthen and contribute to national capacities for development"
This document is based on the experiences and lessons learned by Handicap International teams and partner organisations in relation to capacity development and developing partnerships between 2001 and 2007, following the creation of the partnership tools. It is the result of reading key documents and of communication between professionals between 2001 and 2007. It has been written as a guide for Handicap International staff
This comprehensive report looks in detail at the issues of capacity and capacity development including an explanation and discussion of the concept of capacity development. The report considers the main actors who play a part in, and different ways to think about, capacity development; the different conditions under which capacity development takes place; and the processes and strategies that can/should be employed to increase it. The report is structured to enable readers to easily access the sections that are relevant to them
Discussion Paper No 59B
Created and managed by EuropeAid in 2009, capacity4dev.eu is the European Commission’s primary online knowledge sharing platform on development, external cooperation and policy, the aim of which is to improve capacity development through knowledge sharing. The interactive platform supports the European Commission's efforts to make technical cooperation more effective provides an open forum where EC staff at country level and in headquarters, development practitioners, partner countries, other donors, academics and civil society representatives can share ideas and knowledge
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The International Development Research Centre aims to help developing countries to address their social, economic and environmental problems through the use of science and technology. It funds local research, provide expert advice and help develop local capacity. Publishes widely around economics, environment and biodiversity, health, information and communication, science and technology, social political sciences and development and evaluation. Publications can be ordered online and many are downloadable as free resources.
This website provides information about Making it Work (MIW), a global multi-stakeholder initiative to promote effective implementation of the Convention for the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The initiative aims to collect and exchange examples of good practice and to use this to influence policy development in line with the CRPD. The MIW website highlights general information about the initiative and specific information about exisitng MIW projects and reports. It provides access to a series of user-friendly tools and resources to support practitioners working in the field of disability and development. The MIW Guidelines are available in downloadable pdf format in English, French and Spanish. A resource library is provided with links to CRPD-related information, disability and development topics and a news archive. This website is a useful tool for anyone working on disability rights issues
This manual is a tool to assist with the initial analysis and then the choice of method and procedure in capacity development projects. It provides definitions and concepts, approaches and principles, and sets up a framework for the analysis and describes Sida’s various methods and ways of working
This OECD report “draws on four decades of documented experience provided by both bilateral and multilateral donors, as well as academic specialists, to help policy makers and practitioners think through effective approaches to capacity development and what challenges remain in the drive to boost country capacity. The analysis is underpinned by a conceptual framework which guides practitioners to view capacity development at three interrelated levels: individual, organisational and the enabling environment. It provides insights into what capacity development is, why it matters and, more importantly, what can be done to support it”
Note: Powerpoint slides are also available at: http://www.oecd.org/env/outreach/40695940.pdf
Experiences of NGOs
"This report of the Task Force on Capacity Development in Africa analyzes four decades of capacity development experience in Africa and offers key messages for African countries and their international partners that should underpin a renewed effort to develop, use, and retain capacity for development in Sub Saharan Africa. It also presents specific recommendations of how the World Bank, as a leading development agency in the region, should step up its analytical, financial, and operational contribution to capacity development as part of a coordinated international effort under the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. This paper contains the following chapters: why capacity development - and why now; governance matters for sustained capacity development; the new paradigm for capacity development; from shared vision to implementation platform - renewing the compact; and updating the World Bank's approach to capacity development in Africa - business unusual. The paper includes five annexes that cover the consultations, the literature review, and the country and portfolio evidence collected by the Task Force. It also includes a note on the World Bank Institute's capacity development activities in Africa"
Report number 37709