Systems, process and performance improvements at an organisational level
Knowledge and practical skills on development research and social impact management
Management skills that allow for planning, implementing and evaluating social investments
Defining Capacity Development
Capacity Development is a conceptual approach to social or personnel development that focuses on understanding the obstacles that inhibit organizations and their human capital, from realizing development goals, while enhancing abilities that will allow them to achieve measurable and sustainable results. Capacity building and development means much more than training activities as it includes not only human resource development but also organizational and institutional development (UNESCO, 2010). Capacity building methods and techniques results in increased abilities of individuals, groups, and organizations to perform core functions, solve problems, define and achieve objectives; and deal with development needs within a local context and in a sustainable manner.
There are three types of capacity building: individual, organisational and institutional. At the individual level, capacity building refers to the process of changing attitudes and behaviours, imparting knowledge and developing skills; while maximizing the benefits of participation, knowledge exchange and ownership. At the organisational/institutional level, capacity building of corporate social responsibility departments, or NGO capacity building focuses on the overall organizational performance and functioning capabilities.
Objectives of Capacity Development
Organisations commission capacity building programs to have competent and motivated staff with a shared sense of social purpose; and to put in place effective learning and training systems, and bring about positive attitudinal changes.
Capacity building programs seek to hone skills of personnel engaged in social development, in terms of capacities of vision building and strategy, budgeting and planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. One of the key aims of capacity development is to engage stakeholders and establish accountability, by clearly stated goals and responsibilities, robust coordination mechanisms and feedback loops.
The objectives of capacity building are to increase knowledge on social issues and awareness of community perspectives, provide technical inputs on social program design frameworks, tools and methods of community engagement, and build skills to develop and utilise project planning, implementation and evaluation frameworks.
Importance of Capacity Building
Sustainable Development Goal Target 17.9 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the dedicated target to capacity- building, which calls for the strengthening of technical and scientific cooperation among nations. This idea percolates down to organisations which should also internally review their own capacities, identify areas of improvement and invest in them.
The advantages of capacity development are empowered and strengthened capabilities of development practitioners; along with institutionalised participatory monitoring processes and instruments. Investing in a capacity building program will provide any organisation with heightened standards as well as improved productivity, efficiency, and profitability.
Capacity Development Tools and Methods
Training is the backbone of an organization’s success. All training programs are built on capacity building strategic plans, customised to individual organisations. Elements of capacity building training programs include corporate social responsibility program and policy development, ﬁeld work assessment methods, impact evaluation and social audits, development communications, proposal development, technology aided program monitoring and evaluation.
Trainings focus on informing participants on aspects of effective social program design, understanding nuances of social impact and enhancing their capabilities in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating projects.
Online learning opportunities target development practitioners who are interested in virtual discussions on social impact and want to engage in peer learning opportunities (offering practical insights to theoretical topics). Multiple modules have been developed with the chief aim to strengthen capabilities of implementation personnel and improve program outcomes.
Comprising of multiple training modalities (methods, frequency and budgets), modules include program development, research methods, impact evaluation, reporting and documentation; to equip social development organisations and professionals to conceptualise and implement social programs that are impactful, measurable and sustainable.
Solution-focused, hands-on trainings’ involve joint visioning exercises, systems thinking, sequencing and strategic planning techniques – incentives to apply the newly acquired skills and improve workplace performance; along with learning strategies to address future training needs. Guidance templates and reflection exercises are coupled with peer learning opportunities. In addition, the capacity development trainings offer customised advisory support and strategic direction to organisations.
Technical input sessions ensure that participating organisations learn about new and emerging development needs and think about how they can address them, to enable continued appropriateness of activities.
Events and workshops facilitate discussions on social impact, by scoping problems and exploring solutions, through interactive, participatory and engaging delivery methods. Capacity building methods and techniques include design thinking which emphasises on creating, testing, learning and improving solutions, ‘fishbowls’ which are useful for sharing ideas and information from a variety of perspectives, the World Café methodology which is an effective, and flexible format for hosting large group dialogue, and others.
These events help to build personnel capacities and facilitate dialogue on social change that corresponds to people’s needs and priorities.
Capacity Development Approach
Global program design and evaluation frameworks of OECD, UNDP, Social Value International, The Social Impact Project, Institute for Development Studies (IDS), World Bank, etc. are contextualised to local settings.
All capacity development strategies are built on supporting local knowledge capture mechanisms in a more robust, systematic and concerted manner. Along with theoretical insights, the capacity building programs help to identify and support program champions and change agents, and strengthen feedback loops, to enhance institutional responsiveness and enforcement mechanisms.
Capacity development trainings are customised based on an in- depth understanding of ongoing corporate social responsibility or NGO-led, community development programs. The curriculum focuses on identifying problems and building solutions, related to project design, implementation and evaluation.
Theoretical concepts of research questions, sampling, indicator development, research tools (focus on participatory methods), data analysis, etc. are discussed in light of real world applicability, challenges and best practices, that are fit for purpose and utilisation-focused.
Capacity building methods and techniques move beyond theory based instruction, and include practical exercises and course work. Tools comprise of case study reviews, data exercises on excel, worksheets, group exercises and problem solving, modelling and prototyping of solutions.
Participatory research methods like visual aids, card sorting, games for change, etc. are promoted and used to develop social investment strategies and M&E systems within local contexts. Tips and tricks are offered on varied topics through guidance templates.
All modules and presentations are designed to be interactive, participatory and visual-based. Design aesthetics and the power of story-telling with live examples are at the base of all instruction.
Elegant and well-designed data visualisations offer analytical insights and storytelling, for understanding the message and gaining value from the data. Sessions leverage best practices in visual design and storytelling and are applied to case studies or specific client scenarios.