Ready, Set, Grow - Effective Capacity Building for NGOs and Funders who dream big

Building Institutions | Mar, 2019

Institution building is perhaps the least understood aspect of what it takes to impact lives at scale. While technical excellence is crucial, scaling requires investments in people, processes and systems that stretch far beyond programs themselves. As a non-profit grows from 50 people to 150 and from 150 to 500, functions such as finance and human resources become just as crucial as the delivery of products or services.

Unfortunately, while capacity building is necessary for the scaling of organizations, not enough funder-NGO conversations on this subject evolve to meaningful engagement, and when they do, they do not always achieve the value envisioned by each party. This is because givers and NGOs struggle to connect the dots between capacity building investments and on-ground impact; they fail to agree on common priorities, approaches and measures of success; and more broadly, they tend to approach capacity building without a collaborative mindset or sufficient strategic clarity.

This report is squarely focused on why and how to invest in the program- agnostic institutional backbone of nonprofit organizations. To do this, Dasra has synthesized learnings from nearly two decades of experience working with change-makers to build their capacity. We also conducted more than a dozen interviews with founders of at-scale organizations, experts and funders that have patiently supported organizations on their journeys to scale.

The road to achieving the SDGs is a winding one. Taking this road demands that many more NGOs and funders set their sights on scale and team up for breakthrough growth. This report is a step towards realizing that ambition.

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