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Nonprofit Capacity-Building Project
The McDonough Center recently completed a year-long analysis of nonprofit capacity in the Mid-Ohio Valley. The project was funded by a grant from the Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Fund, a local funder who has long demonstrated an interest in facilitating the development of organizational capacity. The research was conducted by Dr. Tanya Judd Pucella and a group of research assistants, including Saira Khan, Abbey Sullivan, and Mike Judd. The quantitative portion of the study was based on an instrument developed by Dr. Kirsten Gronbjerg of Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.
The study consisted of a quantitative phase in which organizations were asked to complete an organizational assessment, as well as a qualitative phase that included a number of focus groups. The research found that of the seven dimensions of capacity analyzed with the instrument, financial resources were by far the most problematic for area nonprofits. In fact 7 of the top 10 most pervasive challenges overall were under the financial resources category. Human resources and information technology rounded out the top three overall categories in terms of challenge levels. These results were largely supported by the qualitative results as well, though the focus groups also ranked a specific concern, board development and training, as a major challenge as well.
The research also attempted to identify the most useful types of assistance for nonprofit organizations. The most helpful types of assistance identified by participants were related to financial resources, such as multi-year funding and general overhead funding. Student interns were also one of the higher ranked forms of assistance, as were peer interaction and collaborative activities. Several of the recommendations from the report are already underway. Marietta College and the Sisters of St. Joseph are sponsoring an AmeriCorps VISTA position that will be working specifically on capacity-building projects in 2010-2011. In addition, several student intern positions and board retreats are being funded through a student philanthropy initiative that comes from a mini-grant through Ohio Campus Compact. These mini-grants were awarded by the senior McDonough Scholars in the Senior Seminar class, who each wrote capacity building grant proposals on behalf of local agencies. These grants were done based on community based research that stemmed from the nonprofit report. The group then deliberated as a grants committee and determined how to divide up the $4,500 they were awarded among several very worthwhile capacity building initiatives. The AmeriCorps VISTA will be assisting these agencies as they implement their grant activities.
For a pdf file of the Capacity-Building Report, please click the link below: