Our Approach to Capacity-Building


1. Deep Engagements

Our 18-month program is based on the belief that capacity building initiatives “stick” best when they allow sufficient time to build trust, develop tailored strategies, invest in skills transfer, and provide guidance on how to ensure new approaches and practices become part of the organization’s culture and practices. Our holistic, in-depth program is designed to enable leaders and organizations to address multiple areas of organization practice and to coordinate the order and pace of the work to maximize results and adoption.

2. Honest, Deep Data-Driven Assessment

Central to our work is helping clients to identify the right questions to ask, the right things to track and measure, and the right systems to collect and analyze the internal and external data that informs strategic decision making. Our program begins with a robust, comprehensive, and honest assessment of the strengths and challenges of an organization's leaders and its core operational capacities to help leaders prioritize our work together. It ends with a learning assessment that documents what worked, what didn't, and plans for corrective action.

3. Honoring Leader and Organization Knowledge and Experience

We invest in leaders, not just organizations. Central to our work is respect for the deep knowledge our leaders have of their communities, their operations, and their work. We honor that by approaching our work with humility. We engage deeply. We listen. Then we use a collaborative and consultative priority-setting process that enables us to to draw on our leader’s strengths, while providing guidance and support based on the extensive experience and knowledge of our team. Likewise, in developing resources, training and our own business model, we honor “nothing about us without us” by seeking input from the communities we seek to serve, as well as from other intermediaries and stakeholders and funders.

4. Collaborative Field Building

We collaborative promote collaboration with the progressive field in all of our work. We believe we are all stronger by coordinating, sharing best practices, fostering a community of practice, and building and maintaining high-quality public resources for the movement. We work collaboratively with other key capacity-building intermediaries when doing so maximizes resources and achieves greater impact for our clients and funders and/or better serves the field.

5. Building an Experienced, Culturally Competent, and Vetted Pool of Consultants

We are committed to building a pool of diverse consultants in terms of race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, issue expertise, language facility, and geographic location. We employ a consultant vetting process that is rigorous, including interviews, review of sample work, reference checks and sample projects. Additionally, the performance of each consultant (and the overall project) is evaluated throughout the program and we conduct a through a comprehensive evaluation at the end of every engagement.

6. A Trusted And Confidential Place To Grow

A cornerstone of our model is trust. We provide confidentiality protections to ensure that our clients feel free to reveal and honestly discuss their biggest challenges with a trusted team. The terms of funder reporting are agreed upon in advance and updates are provided in general terms, unless otherwise approved by the client. Our guarantee of confidentiality creates a foundation of trust critical to an effective capacity-building partnership.

7. Structured Accountability

Our program is designed to help ensure the success of both our clients and our consultants. We actively monitor progress and deliverables through regular check-ins and midpoint evaluations. We identify and correct problems. We ensure that deliverables are scoped appropriately, that organizations have what they need to absorb and implement the advice they are receiving, and that consultants are supported and receiving what they need from clients.

8. We Are a Learning Organization

We approach our work with a learning mindset. One thing we know is that we don’t know what we don’t know. As one of the only programs focused on emergent and non-501(c)(c) legal structures, we are committed to being brutally honest with ourselves and others about all we still have to learn, what’s working, and what’s not about our approach. When we make a mistake - and if are truly working on the edge of innovation, we will make mistakes - we take ownership of what went wrong, evaluate, and use that knowledge to do better. Then we share our learning with the field.

9. We Strive For Cultural Humility & Principles of Deep Equity

In doing our work, we aim for awareness of the forces that have shaped our own worldviews, mindfully ensure that we acknowledge and account for differences, and work to promote equity in our program design and internal and external work. We commit to cultural humility and incorporating principles of deep equity in our work and relationships; we encourage the groups we work with to do the same.