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What is Capacity Building?

Simply put, capacity building is the process of developing and strengthening the abilities, skills, and resources of individuals, organizations, or communities to perform certain tasks or achieve specific goals.

Capacity building can be applied to a wide range of contexts, such as business, government, non-profit organizations, communities, and individuals. The goal of capacity building is to empower individuals, organizations, and communities to effectively achieve their goals and become self-sufficient over time. When organizations engage in capacity building for their staff, it helps them develop the competencies and skills that make them more effective and sustainable over time.

What are capacity building activities?

Capacity building can involve a wide range of activities, including:

Capacity Building Activity

Activity Description

Example from SPS

Training & Education

Providing individuals or organizations with the knowledge and skills they need to perform certain tasks or functions.

Hosting a training for coalition leaders on effective facilitation skills.

Technical Assistance

Providing entities with the tools, equipment, or other resources they need to perform certain tasks or functions.

Consulting on evaluation planning and implemention.

​Organizational Development

Assisting organizations in improving their internal structures, processes, and systems to better achieve their goals.

Creation of strategic plans to guide activities for the year.

Networking & Collaborating

Helping to connect with other organizations and individuals to share information and resources.

Hosting peer to peer breakout sessions to coordinate resources.

Policy & Advocacy

Assisting in developing and implementing policies and advocacy strategies to promote their goals .

Conducting a policy analysis to understand the impacts of legislation on community outcomes and experiences.

How do I know if my capacity building is working?

Measuring your capacity building is key to know if it is working—and there are several ways to do so. You will want to start with writing down the intended outcomes of your capacity building efforts. For example, your outcome could be to increase capacity to conduct evaluation. In this example, some capacity building activities you could track are:

  • Attending trainings to build evaluation skills

  • Review current efforts and determining one place where evaluation could take place

  • Meet with team members to collaborate on data collection responsibilities

Measuring capacity is not a one-time event. Capacity building happens over time, and it is important to regularly evaluate and assess progress throughout your efforts.

How does capacity building apply to a community context?

At SPS, we help everyone from individuals to agencies to entire communities build their capacity to address and prevent social issues. It’s necessary to operate on all these levels in order to create lasting social change around a public health or social issue. When incorporating entire communities into a capacity building process, there are two important things to remember.

  1. A community's capacity is like a toolbox- it consists of the resources, skills and commitment they have to tackle problems or take advantage of opportunities. On any given day in any part of the world, communities will range drastically in their level of capacity- from those that are just starting on their journey towards building strong foundations for growth and success all the way up through those leading others with soaring potential.

  2. Every person has something to offer- and bringing together collective strength can produce tremendous results - no matter where a group is at. Community capacity building involves understanding the commitment, resources, and skills of its individuals and groups to achieve their goals.

SPS offers evaluation, training & technical assistance, community planning, and organizational development to assist you with your capacity building needs. Our experienced approach prioritizes action & process to optimize to increase individual and organizational ability to better address and prevent social and health-related outcomes.

Interested in learning more?


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