Capacity building is whatever is needed to bring a nonprofit to the next level of operational, programmatic, financial, or organizational maturity, so it may more effectively and efficiently advance its mission into the future. Capacity building is not a one-time effort to improve short-term effectiveness, but a continuous improvement strategy toward the creation of a sustainable and effective organization.A Network Approach to Capacity Building
Pajaro Valley Shelter Services (PVSS) provides families with a path to stable, self-sufficient futures through short- and longer-term housing and supportive services. PVSS operates a mixed housing model in order to meet the diverse needs of families in the community:
- 90-Day Emergency Shelter for women and children;
- 15 Units of 1- to 2-Year Transitional Housing for single- and two-parent households; and
- 6 Units of Long-term Affordable Housing for single- and two-parent households.
The development of a Strategic Plan became a high priority for the 35-year-old organization, because affordable housing has emerged as a critical gap for the community in the Pajaro Valley; the number of families on PVSS’ waiting lists is between 30 to 60 at any given time; and the uncertainty of government funding streams has necessitated a transition to individual, private fundraising sources.
The planning process took place from August 2018 through March 2019 and involved a wide variety of stakeholders in the community. The process included an environmental scan; a capacity assessment; stakeholder engagement via online surveys and in-person interviews; a revision of the Mission, Vision and Values; a SWOT analysis; and goal setting and action planning.
Through the process, it became clear that the most pressing issue facing the organization was the need for capacity development. Seven years ago, PVSS adopted a programmatic shift that expanded its capacity to serve more families, yet staffing levels have remained fairly static since the early 1990s. In May 2018, the organization also acquired the last two of its 22 properties. The expansion in number of clients served has not been matched in capacity-building efforts, which has predictably compromised depth in services and partnerships, the wellness of staff, and internal operations.
To address these needs, PVSS’ Strategic Goals over the next three years are the following:
- Board Development: Develop the Board of Directors into a strategic, effective, and self-sustaining board
- Fund Development for Sustainability: Increase the annual revenue from contributed private income by $235,000- $300,000
- Program Development: Update the program model and policies for both the use of PVSS’ properties and the provision of supportive services
- Resource Development: Increase staff by 3.5-4.0 FTEs and the office space needed to accommodate them in the areas of operations management, fund development coordination, case management, program administrative support, and property management
- Systems Improvement for Efficiency, Effectiveness and Empowerment of Staff: Develop effective internal systems impacting staff roles and structure; decision-making processes; staff evaluations; data management and program evaluation; communications; and staff training and professional development.