May 10, 2021
Capacity Building Landscape Analysis
As a community-driven foundation, Headwaters strives to listen and respond to the needs of the communities they serve. As a result, in 2021, Headwaters Foundation worked with a team of researchers to conduct a needs assessment to identify the challenges and priorities among grantees related to organizational capacity, advocacy, and community leadership.
The needs assessment results prompted Headwaters to learn more about the capacity-building landscape in Montana. In particular, how organizations develop and strengthen the skills, instincts, abilities, strategies, and resources that foster an organization’s strength and sustainability related to operations. The first part of this process invited capacity builders to participate through a survey and brief interview to understand what is offered in Montana, what barriers are present, and visions for the future. Headwaters engaged Keegan Flaherty of Flaherty Consulting to facilitate this project.
This analysis demonstrates that Montana encompasses a variety of stakeholders who work along a spectrum from systems-level change to strengthening individuals. The diversity of capacity-building opportunities paired with funders who are willing to invest in sustainability creates many opportunities for organizations to become stronger and more sustainable. Further, capacity builders agree that leadership development is an essential strategic element in developing organizational efficiencies, generating more impactful services for community members.
Capacity building in Montana does not come without its challenges. Thirty-eight percent of our nonprofits are in rural areas, and our large state makes it difficult to provide equal access to resources for rural communities. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has put a strain on organizations and individuals to dedicate time to improve capacity, skills, and knowledge. Lastly, Montana capacity builders are not working together to provide educational opportunities that meet the needs of organizations and their leaders.
Capacity builders have opportunities to build upon what already exists to serve rural communities better, invest in multifaceted educational opportunities for individuals, and design replicable staffing models. Stakeholders are also willing to leverage current capacity-building funds to fund problem-solving initiatives for capacity-building barriers. There are many ways to improve capacity building for Montana’s nonprofit sector by working at the system level down to the individual approach.