Organizational Capacity Strengthening
One tool that many of Groundswell’s partners use as a guide is a five stage model for local capacity strengthening. Partners adjust their support role based on the particular capacity level and evolution of the local organization. This allows our strategies to evolve as we work to support local autonomy while avoiding dependencies.
Stage 1: Initiation
- Establish community relationships of trust.
- Conduct participatory needs assessments.
- Select pilot villages.
- Focus on initial activities addressing top community priorities.
- Achieve rapid success to generate enthusiasm and motivation.
Stage 2: Deepening
- Deepen the needs assessment by facilitating community-led analysis.
- Establish baselines.
- Integrate new activities that people prioritize.
- Start training community promoters and leaders.
- Expand outreach beyond the pilot villages.
- Initiate linkages and coordination between emerging community organizations and other stakeholders such as NGOs and government institutions.
Stage 3: Expansion
- Deepen the cultivation of equity-oriented leadership and organizational capacity for management, planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
- Continue scaling up by expanding the number of people impacted by the local organization and strategically integrating other priority activities people identify.
- Stabilize and deepen relationship with other NGOs and relevant institutions.
- Support local advocacy activities to address local structural challenges.
- Strengthen self financing of activities.
Stage 4: Consolidation
- Emphasize organizational capacity building for viability, autonomy and sustainability.
- Self financing of local organization operations.
- Achieve a critical mass of communities and people in the local program area necessary for catalyzing wider change.
- Strengthen the coordination of local organizations with external agencies, and their capacity to advocate for their interests and build strategic alliances.
- Initiate the transition process to phase out direct support.
Stage 5: Transition
- Phase out of direct funding and support.
- Strengthen capacity for self-management.
- Strengthen capacity to advocate for local interests and build strategic alliances to wider social movements.
- Negotiate an evolving relationship to leverage the local organizations’ experience and address new opportunities and challenges.
Using these and other methods and tools, in 2010 Peter Gubbels, Groundswell’s Co-coordinator for West Africa, facilitated the production of a methodological guide for the capacity building of community-based organizations with the COMPAS network in Africa.