Skip to main content

Capacity-Building Project Examples

What is a Capacity-Building Project?

The National Council of Nonprofits views capacity-building as "an investment in the effectiveness and future sustainability of a nonprofit … When successful, it strengthens a nonprofit’s ability to fulfill its mission over time, thereby enhancing the nonprofit’s ability to have a positive impact on lives and communities."

Below are some examples of needs, types of capacity-building projects that address them, and potential outcomes or products:


Types of Projects

Common Outcomes/Products


Projects address what partners might need to KNOW to better fulfill their mission

  1. Primary Data Collection -- creating new information through for example focus groups, surveys, or interviews
  2. Secondary Data Analysis -- understanding existing information to share through, for example, a report or presentation
  3. Needs Assessment -- identifying and prioritizing community needs
  4. Asset Mapping – identifying the resources and stakeholders that could be mobilized toward addressing a community need

- Research Report

- Presentation of Findings information gained through:

  • Survey(s)
  • Interviews
  • Oral Histories
  • Quantitative Data Analysis
  • Focus Groups
  • Mapping
  • Content Analysis

Projects address HOW partners might more effectively fulfill their mission through strategic ACTIONS

  1. Program Evaluation – understanding the effectiveness of organizations’ program(s) or service(s)
  2. Best Practices and Models – exploration of case studies that would be helpful or instructive
  3. Program Design/Development – Designing and/or making recommendations for the development of particular program, curriculum, process, event, or other form of infrastructure the organization can then sustainably implement

- Program Implementation with a summary of the process (so it may be replicated)

- Written plan or presentation for a new or evolved program

- Handbook

- Curriculum Development

- Written Report (of best practices or program evaluation)


Projects address how partners might better share their story to RAISE AWARENESS of issues or their work, and/or EDUCATE others on their mission

  1. Synthesizing Existing knowledge – for example, creating videos, brochures, website text, social media campaign, or a marketing plan
  2. Extending Knowledge to New Communities – e.g. efforts to translate materials into Spanish, adapting materials to new audiences, etc.
  3. Creative Projects -- representation of knowledge through for example, logo or brand development, theatrical representation of an educational theme
  4. Storytelling Initiatives -- efforts to better communicate untold or less visible stories; particularly impactful in centering and elevating marginalized voices, narratives, and forms of knowledge

- Video

- Brochure

- Website, blog

- Social media

- Marketing campaign

- Logo or brand development

- Theatrical representation


Projects address how partners might mobilize more (or more sustainable) FUNDING

  1. Grant Writing – supporting grant-writing efforts through synthesizing or gathering relevant knowledge
  2. Fundraising Support – through design of sustainable strategies, events, and processes

- Foundational research report to be used for grant

- Grant proposal

- Fundraising Event

- Fundraising Strategy


Projects address how partners might best leverage PEOPLE (staff, volunteers) to fulfill their mission

  1. Volunteer Support Projects -- supporting recruitment, training and preparation, and retention
  2. Professional Development projects – supporting professional development, training and preparation, fulfillment and retention of professional staff

- Volunteer Training or Professional Development events or curriculum planning

- Volunteer or Staff Handbook

- Retention Analysis (volunteers or staff)

- Human Resource Analysis (staff structures, models, etc.)


Projects help understand or create EXTERNAL CONDITIONS (e.g political or social) that enhance an organization’s ability to fulfill their mission

  1. Policy Review– evaluating the effectiveness, outcomes, and/or implementation of a policy
  2. Campaign – organizing collective action toward a particular political or social goal that impacts your partner’s work

- Policy Analysis

- Policy Recommendation

- Social Action Campaign


Project Examples

The Art of Asking Questions

Additional Resources