Capacity building is a buzzword and a touted solve-all for non-profit organizational and programmatic woes. After reading a journal article on the behavioral assumptions of policy tools by Anne Schneider and Helen Ingram, I wondered if such a framework has been developed to track the behavioral assumptions of capacity building interventions. The assumption I saw played out time and again working in East and West Africa with indigenous non-profits was one of knowledge access. If non-profits have access to knowledge regarding (fill in the blank) budgeting, monitoring and evaluation, marketing, etc they will act differently, or so the theory goes. Research and experience has shown that access is but one part of the puzzle when approaching capacity building efforts. What has been your experience with behavioral assumptions around capacity building interventions?
"The victims of injustice in our world do not need our spasms of passion; they need our long obedience in the same direction." - Gary Haugen
Gary Haugen’s quote causes great pause and reflection for me. I’ve worked under several large humanitarian grants desiring to address the issues of injustice, and yet each one was structured to fund spasms of passion, versus creating systems which would allow for a long-term focused approach. Unfortunately, philanthropic efforts are just as susceptible to passionate solve-all simplistic approaches to solving some of the dire issues of injustice, from poverty to human rights, to issues of national security. What if, as a community of practitioners, we stopped having knee-jerk responses and instead sought to listen, learn, and co-labor with indigenous organizations? What if, as a community of practitioners, we set metrics which allow for learning and failure? What if, as members of the human race, we moved away from falling into an emotive spiral and took courage to acknowledge pain and suffering and knowing that with listening, learning and co-laboring we can be obedient to addressing the issues of injustice for the long-term.