The Capacity Lab is a collaborative initiative to strengthen nonprofit leaders and organizations in Chautauqua County. Through the combined efforts of six local funders, the initiative seeks to align resources and develop collaborative strategies that strengthen the sector.
The nonprofit sector represents a wide variety of organizations that serve a critical role in addressing community needs, contributing to quality of life in the region and the local economy. Collectively, the work of nonprofits impacts the lives of nearly everyone living in Chautauqua County. It is our belief that developing strong organizations and professionals in the sector will help equip nonprofits to better serve in this role and fulfill their missions. Our vision is an exceptional nonprofit sector in Chautauqua County that produces transformational impact, leading to a thriving community where every person’s needs are met.
In December, 2021, The Capacity Lab hired its first full-time employee devoted specifically to capacity building. As Project Director, Noah Goodling works within the county to bring to life the unified vision of the group and helps to strategize new approaches to support the nonprofit sector. He is passionate about helping local nonprofits build their operations with confidence and a strong sense of community.
Who We Are
- Noah Goodling, Project Director, The Capacity Lab
- Adam Dolce, United Way of Northern Chautauqua County
- Amy Rohler, United Way of Southern Chautauqua County
- Diane Hannum, Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation
- Elizabeth Jones, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation
- Jane Cleaver Becker, Winifred Crawford Dibert Foundation
- Linda Swanson, Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation
- Lindsey Goold, United Way of Southern Chautauqua County
- Tory Irgang, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation
The Capacity Lab is supported by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and the local funders listed above.
Additionally, our local capacity building work is connected with the regional efforts of the WNY Nonprofit Support Group, which works across nine counties in Western New York, including Chautauqua County.
In 2019, an assessment survey was conducted amongst Chautauqua County nonprofits to provide insights across seven key competency areas, and feedback was given on organizational strengths and opportunities for improvement. Based on the aggregate report and feedback from nonprofits, several immediate next steps were identified to help provide access to resources, tools, and best practices across the competency areas, which included new resource pages on Chautauqua Grants and a county-wide monthly e-newsletter.
In 2020, the collaborative efforts first initiated across local funders through the capacity initiative were a key factor in their ability to quickly mobilize resources to form the Chautauqua County Crisis Response Fund: COVID-19, in response to the pandemic. Over $1 million was raised and granted directly back out to organizations between the months of April to September, 2020, to help address basic human needs, food security and childcare, nonprofit reopening supplies and materials, and nonprofit stabilization.
Surveys: In addition to the local 2019 nonprofit survey, several regional surveys and focus groups were conducted by the WNYNSG and NYCON to gauge the impact of the pandemic on nonprofit operations and capacity needs. These surveys have continued to assist the initiative to proactively design offerings to support and uplift our nonprofits through capacity building activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on the data underpinning our work, please click here.
Connect With Us
Please reach out with any ideas or questions! Our Project Director, Noah Goodling, is always excited to hear from people interested in our local nonprofit community. He brings more than a decade of nonprofit experience to this role, including most recently as the Executive Director of the Fenton History Center in Jamestown, and enjoys talking about how to make the sector stronger.
Noah Goodling, Project Director