Developing your organisation.
What is capacity building?
For me capacity building is about helping and supporting either an individual or an organisation to move towards their ultimate goal of where they want to be. Sometimes that will be dropping an email, quick telephone conversation, that’s capacity building. And the other end of the spectrum is where we’ll put on two days training, training around governance, team building.
Sometimes it’s facilitating network events. We had a Human Rights conference, which was about DPOs coming together, learning about the UN Convention on Human Rights, but also having a time to talk to each other.
It’s the support and advice and information that one organisation gives to another. So there’s peer development of organisations supporting one another to grow and to build and to extend what they do, to include all disabled people and not just certain groups of disabled people.
To me, it’s about learning from others' experiences, and the benefits that brings. Other people’s knowledge it’s almost like you can short cut. You don’t have to go and reinvent the wheel yourself.
Why should all DPOs find time for capacity building?
Survival. It enables them to take a step back. It enables them to look at the bigger picture. It enables them to invest in that learning and development, which is crucial for their future sustainability. Because you can only get so far on enthusiasm and a good idea.
It’s really all the activity that makes the organisation function. You’ve got the front facing activity which is where you engage with your users. But you do need your structure behind to operate, and to become compliant really. Statutory funders and trusts and foundations are obsessed with making sure that you’ve got good practice in place. But it leads also to good customer service, because if your workers and volunteers are happy and secure, then you know you’re going to deliver good services.
Capacity building isn’t about today, it’s about the future and at this moment in time when everything’s so uncertain, actually building capacity so that you are a strong viable organisation is more important than ever before. It’s about our futures, as a collective.
Disability Cornwall views capacity building as essential to it's development, and in 2010 did a PEST Analysis.
PEST stands for Political, Economic, Social and Technological influences on the organisation. It’s space out of the life for the trustees, space out of the working day for the staff here, so that you can go into a space and think about what it is your organisation does. Is it doing what it should be doing? Where did it come from? Where has it got to now? And where is it going to go into the future?
So that you can begin to identify what the key issues are, that are going to be affecting the organisation over the short, medium and longer terms. All of it needs to be revisited because of the budget cuts, that are taking place now. I think that’s stressing the importance of capacity building as an ongoing project, rather than as a time focused, time limited bit of activity. It’s a thing that we need to write into our diaries as an organisation, and keep doing it.
Well it strengthens Disability Cornwall, in as much as you adding to your governing documents so your aims and objectives might change as a result of that. Which means that you become more focused as an organisation. It means that your management committee and your staff are all singing from the same hymn sheet.
Capacity building is about helping organisations to become stronger voices in the community. We’ve already seen, in our movement, a number of organisations fold over the years, due to political agendas. Maybe due to lack of funding. And sometimes just due to lack of expertise within the organisation. What is important to as UK DPC is that these organisations remain in operation because they are important. They are important for the lives of local disabled people and they’re important for the wider rights of disabled people. So by helping them to become more sustainable it means that they can create more employment opportunities because the organisations will generally tend to employ more disabled people. It means that they are able to support disabled people at the local level as well. So capacity building is really a key tool, which is necessary for the survival and delivery of services for disabled people.