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Capacity building in not for profits

14 May 2019 at 8:17 am
Andrew Cairns
Australian not for profits need to build capacity so they can deliver programs, create real impact and strengthen communities, writes Community Sector Banking CEO Andrew Cairns.

Andrew Cairns | 14 May 2019 at 8:17 am


Capacity building in not for profits
14 May 2019 at 8:17 am

Australian not for profits need to build capacity so they can deliver programs, create real impact and strengthen communities, writes Community Sector Banking CEO Andrew Cairns.

By definition, not for profits are givers. Their purpose is to give, to do, to change, to instil hope and to provide services to the community. Any money donated or earned goes back into the organisation to further its cause or to support the daily operations of the organisation. Inherently they are driven by positive outcomes from those they serve.

Although the motivation is different, the intent, the drive and the necessity to run a successful and sustainable operation as a not for profit is no different to profit making ventures. Both must succeed and be sustainable in order to function and grow, and yet, both must function and grow in order to succeed.

There is strength in having social orientation deep within your DNA which is being supported by correct commercial nuances and disciplines.

However, in any healthy dynamic, whether it be a company, an organisation or even a marriage or partnership, support is key. Successful operations are those that are supported not just from the outside, but from the inside as well. And often, organisations that focus on doing so much for so many suffer from the lack of support structures to keep them functioning well.

Not for profits shine in supporting others, but often lack the capacity or time to support themselves. There is a real need for organisations to build capacity from within so that they can continue to grow, further their reach and support the communities they serve.

When organisations build capacity, they increase business growth, they strengthen their support services and they can grow their reach and expand how many people they can assist. They change our society for the good. Without this capacity, organisations face the challenges of limited program growth, limited resources, and often, staff experiencing burn-out by wearing too many hats. And although funding and grants can help support capacity building, the reality is that many organisations don’t have access to additional funds. In these cases, organisations may need to shift their priorities and focus to look inward for a time – and after the internal checks and maintenance is carried out, their focus can once again resume on others.

There’s a reason why organisations need to be strong from within in order to function with strength and purpose in their quest to serve others. It’s a simple concept that applies to everything in life – you must look after yourself before you can look after others. When organisations have a strong core, they can adequately navigate the challenges and hurdles that come from serving and supporting others in their time of need. If the organisation is weak from the inside, it will fall short and face ongoing issues in carrying out their mission to help others. It will not grow; it will not flourish – and it will not succeed.

Through our annual Social Investment Grants Program, we’ve come up with a wonderful and unique opportunity for not for profits to seek the support for capacity building within their organisations. Each year organisations can apply for funding, and this year, we are giving funding to not for profits to use specifically for capacity building. Over $350,000 will be awarded to organisations seeking support.

We hope to reward organisations looking to put long-term infrastructure in place to support their organisation from within. This may mean providing supplemental skills training to staff, or it may mean undertaking volunteer recruitment or technology upgrades to aging computers or software. Capacity building can mean rebuilding an out-of-date website or hiring consultants to develop a long-term communications strategy, or planning a team building retreat for staff to recharge, refocus and strengthen relationships from within the organisation. Capacity building means anything that supports the long-term strategy, aim and purpose of an organisation.

Building capacity means strengthening the structures that support an organisation in its mission and goals. In simple terms, it’s the upkeep and maintenance required to keep an organisation running smoothly and successfully. It’s the internal structures that provide the spine and backbone of a strong entity.

We must support not for profits in allocating time, resources and funds to maintain their structures from within so that they can continue their unwavering support of others.

Andrew Cairns  |  @ProBonoNews

Andrew Cairns is the CEO of Haven Home Safe, a homelessness organisation that specialises in social and affordable housing solutions. Prior to joining Haven, he held several senior management roles including more than 19 years with the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Group and almost five years as CEO of Community Sector Banking.

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