Capacity building

Guide to Financial Management

Capacity building

Some NGOs work to build up local organisations 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 provide support to their members or helping national NGOs or government institutions to work better and grow.

When it works well, capacity building can help local organisations deliver relevant services on a sustainable basis to local people (including lobbying and assisting empowerment).

However, like all NGO activity, capacity building brings its own challenges. In particular, it is hard for outsiders to understand local organisations' operating context (both internal and external). It is also often hard to be sure who is driving the 'capacity building' process: the NGO providing the assistance, or the organisation receiving it.

If the NGO providing assistance is driving the process, or if the capacity building support is not relevant, then any organisation which is built up may not keep going on its own.

Working with beneficiaries

Just like other forms of NGO activity, capacity building has to be based on local realities. Normally this is achieved when capacity building is led by local people, working in tune with local social or political processes. This may create organisations which are different to 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 organisation that is building itself up.

For example, Mango is a capacity-building organisation. We suggest ideas and techniques about financial management which we hope help NGOs use their funds more effectively.