On September 10th, the TCC Group presented a lively session about understanding nonprofit organizational capacities and lifecycles. Is your organization in the start-up phase, or adolescent, mature, or stagnant? Since there seemed to be much interest in this topic, I asked Susan Misra, one of the program's presenters, to write a guest blog on the topic for the benefit of those who could not attend the program.
Earlier this month, Paul Connolly, Senior Vice President at TCC Group, and I had the opportunity to present to a full house at the Foundation Center. Our topic was “Strengthening Nonprofit Performance.” We discussed TCC’s Four Core Capacities Model and how it can be used to enhance organizational effectiveness.
At TCC Group, we believe that an organization’s ability to master challenges and strengthen performance across its lifecycle relies largely on the leaders’ willingness to candidly assess weaknesses and strengths and address these in constructive ways to build the Four Core Capacities: Adaptive, Leadership, Management, and Technical Capacity.
Our audience was particularly interested in how the Four Core Capacities are affected by an organization’s lifecycle—from start-up, to adolescence, to the mature phase, and finally the stagnant phase. Early on, nonprofits may excel in adaptive and leadership capacities; they are often started by visionary founders responding to community needs. Later on, nonprofits may develop their management capacity as the board is formalized, staff are professionalized, and infrastructure is put in place. Mature organizations, meanwhile, are constantly improving all four capacities in an effort to expand their impact and avoid decline. Finally, stagnating nonprofits may need to rebuild their adaptive and leadership capacity to renew and reenergize their organization.
At TCC Group, we have worked with hundreds of nonprofits that are achieving their missions and expanding their impact. No matter where they are in their organizational lifecycle, these nonprofits have two things in common: First, they realize that programmatic results depend on a strong organization. Second, they invest their resources in building their organization’s Four Core Capacities:
· Leadership Capacity: the ability of all organizational leaders to create and sustain the vision, inspire, model, prioritize, make decisions, provide direction and innovate, all in an effort to achieve the organizational mission.
· Management Capacity: the ability of a nonprofit organization to ensure the effective and efficient use of organizational resources.
· Technical Capacity: the ability of a nonprofit organization to implement all of the key organizational and programmatic functions.
The Four Core Capacities Model helps you to think differently about your organization. Rather than focusing narrowly on any one functional area, such as governance, management, resource development, or programs, the Model allows you to think about how to increase the adaptive, leadership, management, and technical capacities relating to each function. Alternatively, the Model allows you to look broadly at enhancing a specific capacity across your entire organization.
For more information about the four core capacities, please check out these resources that are available free of charge on our website (registration is required):
- Navigating the Organizational Lifecycle: A Capacity-Building Guide for Nonprofit Leaders (also available at the Foundation Center’s library)
- CCAT Helps Organizations Realize Capacity
- The "Lifecycle" and Organizational Capacity Models: A Powerful Combination for Building a High-Impact Organization
- Everyday Leaders: Building the Adaptive Capacity of Nonprofit Organizations
If you have any questions or comments, or would like more information about the Four Core Capacities Model, please post a comment or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post is from Susan Misra, Senior Consultant, TCC Group.