Planning: The Key to Capacity Building
Often we talk about building capacity, but what exactly does that mean? At Library Strategies, we look at capacity building as creating skills, tools, resources, and structures that allow your library, Friends, or foundation to do more and provide better service. Under this definition, areas such as fundraising and development, PR and marketing, and board and staff development are key areas allowing organizations to build capacity.
Fundamental to this capacity building approach is planning. Starting with an assessment of your library or organization’s current capacity or capabilities in these areas, developing an overall plan for growth is critical. Three to five year strategic plans are one route, but other planning efforts on specific areas such as fundraising or marketing may also prove very useful.
One example would be the creation of a development or fundraising plan. This could involve your library staff and board, Friends group, and your foundation (if you have one). Under a fundraising plan, you would assess your current fundraising efforts, and where you could reasonably expect to improve or see growth in such areas as individual giving, corporate or business sponsorship, grants, and planned giving. The plan would also include resources needed, such as staffing, board growth, donor database, etc., that would allow you to move forward in these areas. Finally, setting realistic goals (an increase of 10-20% in annual fundraising income is usually aggressive), timelines and responsibilities are fundamental to any good plan.
These planning processes can be weighty and take time, but they allow you to muster the resources to accomplish goals. And remember, capacity building areas such as fundraising and marketing, although they take time and effort, should ultimately allow you to accomplish your bigger service goals for your library and community.