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Chris Cornforth, Jill Mordaunt, Mike Aiken and Shirley Otto Open University Business School or

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Presentation on theme: "Chris Cornforth, Jill Mordaunt, Mike Aiken and Shirley Otto Open University Business School or"— Presentation transcript:

1 Chris Cornforth, Jill Mordaunt, Mike Aiken and Shirley Otto Open University Business School or Building organisational capacity: Using a consultancy network to intervene in small and medium size charities

2 2 The CAF grants programme The research aims and methods Capacity building – concepts and frameworks Main findings Overview

3 3 CAF Grants Programme since 1976 focus on developing capacity of SM charities 2003/4 £1.1m to support >200 orgs. 2006/7 £1.2m to support >90 orgs. Two types of grant (2006/7): - consultancy and training grants (<£20k, <20 days consultancy, costs etc) - collaborative grants (<£100k flexible funding, <50 days consultancy, joint working)

4 4 Research aims Understand the strengths and weaknesses of CAF’s consultancy-based approach to capacity building Examine ways in which it could further improve its effectiveness Draw out and disseminate lessons about capacity building

5 5 Methods Analysis of secondary data – monitoring and evaluation reports Interviews and focus groups with key stakeholders Eight case studies of grantees Observation of Advisory Council and Grants Panel meetings Regular reporting and discussion with steering group

6 6 Capacity building – concepts and frameworks ‘Slippery’ concept – many definitions and used in wide variety of contexts (Harrow, 2001; Cairns et al, 2005) Land (1999) – risky business, contested goals, unpredictable outcomes, uncertain methodologies, unintended consequences, long time lags Defn: ‘developing capabilities of an organisation (system) to improve its effectiveness (and sustainability)’

7 7 Approaches to capacity building (Adapted from Bolton and Adby, 2007) Beneficiary Intervention IndividualsOrganisationsField or Community Sector Training Consultancy Financial support Other support CAF

8 8 Models of delivery (Blumenthal, 2003) Delivery methodKey features Capacity grantFunder provides grant to enable grantee to select consultant from market place. Projects generally short-term Development partner Funder funds development partner Successful grantees referred to development partner Consultant involved in diagnosis and can develop longer term relationship Structured programme Grantees helped to set long-term goals and receive mix of support Grantees required to engage in structured programme and continued support depends on progress towards goals.

9 9 The Capacity Building Triangle Funder Consultant(s)Grantee/ Client

10 10 Findings 1: strengths and challenges of CAF’s approach StakeholderStrengthsChallenges FunderGreater control over quality of consultant Potential for shared learning Demands new staff skills More demanding of staff time and resources Problems of communication and learning GranteeTakes away problem of finding suitable consultant Reduces control and possibly ownership of process Have to deal with funder and consultant ConsultantReduces need to solicit and tender for work Access to small orgs. that might not be able to afford consultancy Reduces control over process Relationship with grantee mediated by funder May increase focus on report and delay feedback

11 11 2. Support for and refinement of some US findings (Backer, 2001) Comprehensive but customized service Assessment led – but, danger of becoming formulaic, limits of resource constraints and consultant’s expertise etc Client competence and readiness – crucial, but how to judge initially, how to balance need vs picking winners Competent providers – new skills for foundation staff, quality of consultants Timeliness – re start and duration, but difficult to judge at outset (Flexible service – but, need to balance between flexibility and writing ‘blank’ cheque)

12 12 References Backer, T. E. (2001) ‘Strengthening Nonprofits: Foundation Initiatives for Nonprofit Organizations’, in C. De Vita and C. Fleming (eds) Building Capacity in Nonprofit Organizations, Washington, DC: The Urban Institute. Blumenthal, B. (2003) Investing in Capacity Building: A Guide to High Impact Approaches, New York: The Foundation Center. Bolton, M. and Abdy, M. (2007) Foundations for Organisational Development: Practice in the UK and USA, London and Newcastle on Tyne: Baring Foundation and Northern Rock Foundation. Cairns, B., Harris, M. and Young, P. (2005) ‘Building the Capacity of the Voluntary Nonprofit Sector: Challenges of Theory and Practice’, International Journal of Public Administration, 28: Cornforth, C, Mordaunt, J, Aiken, M and Otto, S (2008) Learning from capacity building and lessons for other funders, West Malling, Kent: Charities Aid Foundation. (Available to download from ) Harrow, J. (2001) ‘Capacity Building as a Public Management Goal: Myth, Magic or Main Chance?’, Public Management Review, 3, 2,


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