Collaborate, Innovate, Cultivate
A local capacity building initiative was launched in 2019 to help support nonprofit leaders and organizations in Chautauqua County. A nonprofit assessment survey was conducted to provide insights across seven key competency areas, feedback was given on organizational strengths and opportunities for improvement. The initiative’s goal is to work with nonprofit partners to canvas existing assets, increase engagement and collectively design a strategy to help strengthen organizations across the sector.
Led by the Chautauqua Funders Group represented by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation, United Way of Northern Chautauqua County, United Way of Southern Chautauqua County and the Winifred Crawford Dibert Foundation. Additionally, the initiative has been supported by the Gebbie Foundation, Lenna Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.
For the first phase of work, the group partnered with Community Wealth Partners (CWP), a consulting organization with deep experience in understanding and supporting nonprofit capacity building to help facilitate and administer a nonprofit assessment survey.
Capacity Assessment Survey
The assessment survey was designed by CWP to provide insight into organizational capacity across seven key competency areas to provide feedback on the organization’s strengths and opportunities for improvement. The competency areas describe the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that have been identified as essential to high-performing nonprofit organizations.
A total of 420 individuals, representing 36 nonprofits in Chautauqua County completed the survey in the fall of 2019. Respondents from these organizations included staff, leadership, board members, volunteers and other external stakeholders. Additionally, a series of focus groups were held with participants to share and further discuss selected survey findings.
Each organization received a detailed report that highlighted their organization’s current strengths and opportunities for growth. This report also included a customized set of recommendations for the next steps to building capacity based on their survey results.
An aggregate report summarizing the findings from the survey results and focus groups was also provided. The results of the aggregate report will now guide the next phase of work to design a strategy to help strengthen organizations across the sector.
The next steps of this initiative are to design a collective approach to capacity building in our county that will include both short-term and long-term goals. This work will also be connected with the regional efforts of the WNY Nonprofit Support Group that is working across nine of our neighboring counties.
Additionally, through this process an immediate step was identified to help provide access and promote training opportunities for resources, tools and best practices across the seven major competencies.
In response, the Funders Group has developed two new resources on the Chautauqua Grants website:
These resources are not exhaustive but meant to help provide access to useful educational interactive tools, webinars, worksheets and articles that can be used by staff and board members. The training and workshop page will be used to help promote regional opportunities available for nonprofits.