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A Nonprofit Balancing Act: The Precipice or Solid Ground?

Julie Simpson, Director, Nonprofit Effectiveness

Erin Britton, Consultant & Product Manager, Nonprofit Effectiveness

Andrew Selcke, Consultant, Integrated Initiatives

For Nonprofits Looking to Stick Around, Start by Solidifying the Core

The past six months have tested nonprofit resilience and served as a litmus test for sustainability or collapse. Even before COVID-19 became our present reality, most nonprofits found themselves a mere catastrophe away from closing their doors. Well, we got our catastrophe…

Nonprofits teeter in survival mode, in no small part, due to traditional funding methods—where programmatic funding is all that matters, leaving many community institutions hollowed out at their cores. If there’s a bright spot in the midst of our uncertainty, the crisis facing the nonprofit sector in 2020 and beyond has prompted funders to think critically about how to better support the full cost of service delivery, and more effectively deploy financial capital to build strong and resilient organizations.

Building organizational resilience must be an essential part of the conversation if we hope to increase nonprofits’ ability to achieve their missions in the face a rapidly changing world. Only then can we hope to lift nonprofits out of survival mode and offer them the chance to exercise their creative and adaptive muscles, to experiment and take risks, and to invest in their future. With the growing demand for the critical services nonprofits provide, these investments are no longer considered a luxury—they are a critical requirement. Don’t just take our word for it—listen to the many nonprofits that have begun strongly advocating for their organizational well-being and sustainability.

When it comes to strengthening a nonprofit’s core, it’s essential to know where to prioritize—as nonprofits tend to have no shortage of capacities to build. With a wide variety of capacity assessments available, TCC Group’s Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) is one of the most beneficial (along with the Algorhythm’s iCAT and Ford Foundation’s Organizational Mapping Tool). For nonprofits already enjoying general operating support, those advocating for it, or those aiming to strategically invest in their sustainability, a reliable organizational capacity assessment powerfully amplifies the case for institutional strengthening!

Administered by more than 7,000 nonprofits, the CCAT survey collects real-time input from staff and board leaders to assess an organization across 36 key sub-capacities. These statistically validated measures are drawn from an evidence-based understanding of how nonprofits most effectively deliver on their missions.

The CCAT provides staff and Board members with a common language to discuss institutional challenges and assets, building buy-in across all levels of the organization, and offering the chance to engage in collective visualization and aspiration setting:

  • Where does the organization want to be a year from now?
  • What will it be able to do then that it can’t do now in terms of impact, people, and/or fundraising?
  • What capacities are most important for it to build immediately to arrive at desired outcomes?

These are just some of the questions the CCAT, with its associated interpretation session, surfaces and helps nonprofits answer.

Nonprofits taking the CCAT survey receive a customized report, revealing a lifecycle stage placement that contextualizes their most pressing capacity building needs. Organizations looking to move closer to mission achievement must build those core capacities most relevant to their current organizational development stagei.e. not all capacity building is created equal. The CCAT identifies and recommends how a nonprofit can focus its limited time, money, and effort to locate capacity-building efforts in ways that will yield immediate and meaningful improvement. Only organizations with clarity on how to effectively prioritize their core strengthening can maximize their community impact—now and into the future.

Interested in assessing your nonprofit’s core capacity? Click here to learn more about and purchase the CCAT.

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