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How Capacity Building Transforms Nonprofits

Posted by Social Venture Partners Portland

Capacity building is an investment in the futures of nonprofits and, when successful, it strengthens their ability to fulfill their missions and make positive changes over a longer period of time. SVP Portland supports local nonprofits, and our Investor Partners are part of our secret sauce. We often get questions from newer Partners about the kinds of work that we do and how to get more involved with nonprofits directly.

Many nonprofits face resource constraints, both in terms of skills and bandwidth, which limit organizational growth and health. This is where SVP as a capacity builder is positioned to collaborate with Community Partners to leverage the strengths within their organization, identify infrastructure and skill gaps, and pair resources to solve bigger challenges together.

Over the years, we have identified eight areas of critical need within nonprofits that our Investor Partners are often well positioned to support:

    • Financial systems and management
    • Information technology strategy and support
    • Revenue strategy and donor stewardship (fundraising)
    • Strategic and business planning
    • Human resources strategy and support
    • Board development
    • Program development/refinement
    • Coaching (varying staff levels and topics)

“An investment in capacity building often leads to an organization’s ability to innovate and design programs that address systemic issues,” said SVP Partner, Megan Loeb. “Focusing on an organization’s overall health and sustainability is vital. This is the key to any nonprofit’s long-term success and ability to make transformational change in their community.”

This is where you come in. For years, SVP Portland has leveraged the skills of our Investor Partners to bring a new meaning to volunteerism. We engage a talented pool of leaders and changemakers who:

    • Put their professional skills and knowledge to work
    • Partner with internal teams to envision and scale organizations
    • Increase long-term capacity to make and sustain meaningful change
    • Get involved in a vibrant, collaborative community and network with other community leaders
    • Are enriched and changed by their experiences working hand-in-hand with nonprofit leaders

In 2020 alone, our SVP Partners stepped up to invest more than 6700 hours of their time, skills, and knowledge in local nonprofits. Working side-by-side with Community Partners—like the ones below—is an opportunity to join them and extend support to growing nonprofits whose missions and visions for change run the gamut within our Access to Preschool goal. While the missions all differ, the end goal doesn’t: ensuring all children have access to high-quality, culturally-relevant early learning experiences.

Here are some of the successful capacity building initiatives with which SVP Partners have been involved:

An example of what SVP’s capacity building looks like in practice is our work with the Latino Network, specifically the Juntos Aprendemos program that equips Spanish-speaking preschool-aged children with early literacy and school readiness skills. We began our partnership with Latino Network in 2013, helping to strengthen its capacity in the areas of human resources & management infrastructure, strategic and operational planning, and program evaluation — all foundational work to scaling Juntos Aprendemos. Seven years later, Latino Network built its capacity to scale Juntos and launched an affiliate pilot with three schools in Central Oregon.

As Sadie Feibel, their Deputy Director of Programs, shared: “SVP helped us to codify our model, imagine scaling scenarios, establish our non-negotiables, write a business plan, build a financial model for scaling, develop and conduct a feasibility study and report the findings, develop legal agreements, provided project management, wrangled graduate students, reviewed literature, conducted policy and benchmarking analysis, advocated for funding, and gave generously of their time, their expertise, and their hearts.”

The SVP Portland staff team up with our Lead Partners to identify short-term and long-term engagements to perform capacity building work, and then match Partners based on experience and interest in those eight areas of critical need. To connect on a new opportunity or explore the ways your talents can benefit our Community Partners, please contact Matt Little at 503.222.0114 or matt@svpportland.org.

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