What is capacity building?
According to the National Council of Nonprofits, “capacity building is not just about the capacity of a nonprofit today -- it's about the nonprofit’s ability to deliver its mission effectively now, and in the future. Capacity building is an investment in the effectiveness and future sustainability of a nonprofit.”
While we’d all like to envision a near future where food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens are no longer needed, our collective work of providing hunger relief is likely to be a reality for some time to come. As long as there are food insecure people with nowhere else to turn, we are committed to ensuring that our system of providing assistance is strong and stable.
Good Shepherd Food Bank’s Capacity Building Program is a collection of actions we take to assist our partner network in maintaining healthy programs of food support in communities across Maine.
Capacity building work can take on many different forms, from developing a strong communication and outreach strategy, improving volunteer recruitment and retention, updating equipment and technology, measuring and telling the story of program impact, and ensuring there is a leadership succession plan. Our 2017 Partner Agency Survey was a step in the direction of understanding what areas of capacity building we can provide the most impactful support.
One of the first steps we are taking is to better understand the equipment needs of our partners. We understand that lack of cold storage or inadequate storage facilities can have a big impact on your ability to serve your community. Equipment also happens to be an item for which we regularly have donors happy to provide funding. Up until this point, when we are offered a funding opportunity we’ve had to do some educated guess work about how big the need is for a particular equipment item. For instance, if a donor provides us funding to purchase twenty refrigerators, it hasn’t been easy to figure out which programs in our network have a need for a refrigerator in that moment. We occasionally have donors say they’ll donate a certain amount of money and ask what the equipment or infrastructure needs are in our network, and again, this has been hard to answer in real time.
For the reasons stated above, we are asking all our partners to let us know your equipment needs now so that we have a running list that we can reference when donations become available. A list of known needs will also help us seek out support in a more informed way. Please see the survey (here) in this issue where you can enter your program’s equipment and technology needs. Keep this link and update it regularly.
With this information on hand, we will be able to connect available funding to known needs more quickly and avoid lengthy and complicated grant application processes whenever possible. Please take the time to complete the survey so that your program is included when funding for your needs becomes available.