Note from Beth: I’ve just returned from leading an intense “Networked NGO” training for Packard Foundation PRH grantees from Pakistan. The four-day workshop covered effective practices of networked ngos, including culture change, integrated social media strategy, and tactics. I worked with a group of eight organizations with two staff people from each. So, I’m very interested in this topic and will have a lot more to say once I recover from jet lag. I’m very grateful that the OE Team at Packard has shared this guest post about this important topic. If you work for an NGO in another region of the world or have experience delivering capacity building program, I encourage you to join the discussion here.
We at the Packard Foundation’s Organizational Effectiveness Program (OE) are in the thick of assessing and refreshing our grantmaking strategy. This periodic review pushes us to candidly reflect on what works and what we can do better with our grantmaking. As part of this process, we’ve committed ourselves to actively reaching out to our partners for input. One part of this effort is our new, experimental strategic planning website.
A few weeks ago, we featured the following question on the site: Do you think that OE funders should require grantees to undertake an organizational assessment before awarding an OE grant? Why/why not? We received several insightful responses, of which many emphasized the context-specific nature of assessment needs (i.e. “it depends” on several variables). Rachael Barrett of the Women’s Refugee Commission offered the following from the perspective of an organization that recently sought out capacity building funding: “My quick answer is yes … having organizational assumptions challenged by an unbiased outsider will hopefully help us make a more refined decision about next steps.” Jared Raynor of the TCC Group gently reminded us that, in light of “today’s capacity building environment”, we should first take a deeper look into what we hope to achieve with our grantmaking, which in turn would inform our answer to this question. He also emphasized that “organizational assessment” is a large umbrella term that encompasses a wide variety of tools and purposes, a fact that further complicates our discussions.
We really appreciate these perspectives and, in the next few weeks, we’re featuring two more questions:
1) What is the best way to support a strong NGO sector in underserved countries or regions such as South Asia, the Western Pacific, or Sub-Saharan Africa?
- Funders: what have you tried in this space?
- Non-profits: what kind of capacity-building support do you think is most needed in the country or region where you work?
- Everyone: What has worked well and what hasn’t?
2) Should funders recommend capacity building consultants or require grantees use certain consultants for projects they fund? Why or why not?
Can we count on you to contribute your experiences and insights?