As Southern California continues to cope with the fallout from the economic downturn, many nonprofits in Los Angeles County are struggling to do more with less and could benefit from comprehensive, affordable, and culturally sensitive capacity-building services, a new report from the TCC Group and the Weingart Foundation finds.
Based in part on interviews with local nonprofit and philanthropic leaders, the report, Fortifying L.A.'s Nonprofit Organizations: Capacity-Building Needs and Services in Los Angeles County (120 pages, PDF), examined the organizational capacity of the region's nonprofits, the types of capacity building needed to enhance their effectiveness, the types and quality of services available, and the extent to which funders'activities strengthen nonprofit organizational performance. Among other things, it found that the ever-increasing demand for services in the region, coupled with declining resources, have put the governance, management, and sustainability of many nonprofits at risk. Moreover, with the number of nonprofits in the region growing even as aggregate revenues level off, organizations increasingly find themselves competing for funding and have fewer resources to invest in capacity-building measures.
The report identifies shortfalls in a number of capacity-building areas, including high-quality coaching and peer exchange, program evaluation, strategic learning and human resource services, culturally competent services, and geographically targeted services. It also argues that local foundation support for capacity building is diffuse and not well coordinated.
In addition to encouraging nonprofits to bolster their capacity by building on their existing strengths, the report's authors argue that capacity-building service providers should target their efforts to where they're needed most, including information technology, and that they should network and collaborate more. Recommendations for funders include helping nonprofits form strategic alliances and pooling resources to provide more general operating and multiyear support to key nonprofits in the region.