Challenges for the 'Changers' Capacity issues facing local nonprofit organisations

Madden, Kym M. & Scaife, Wendy A. (2005) Challenges for the 'Changers' Capacity issues facing local nonprofit organisations. In Social Change in the 21st Century Conference, 28 October 2005, QUT Carseldine, Brisbane.


Opposing views exist on nonprofit capacity. Some would argue the nonprofit sector acquits itself well in capacity terms, having lived long with the mantra of ‘doing lots with little’. Light (2004, p.13) suggests ‘nonprofits make miracles every day’ citing examples as diverse as rebuilding Europe after World War II to battling life threatening diseases like tuberculosis and polio. Pitted against this noble view are rumblings about high administration costs from an increasingly wary public (Independent Sector 2004, Baily and Bruce 1992) and trends toward more government and other regulation and watchdog activity (e.g. Reviews of charitable fundraising legislation around Australia and websites like Guidestar1 and Givewell2). Performance expectations are growing. As one example, ‘change not charity’ is an increasing catchcry from funding sources for nonprofit organisations (e.g. Reichstein Foundation3; Anheier and Leat 2002). This change agent role arguably demands even stronger capacity than that already required to meet charitable needs. Against this high demand backdrop, it is appropriate to ponder the state of Australia’s nonprofit capacity and how it might be strengthened in the future. This paper provides a window into this topic, drawing on qualitative data that forms part of the year-long Giving Australia study (2005). Its main contribution is to explore what Australian nonprofit leaders perceive capacity building to entail along with their top of mind internal and external capacity concerns. A brief summary of views on capacity building from the literature begins the discussion to give context to this new Australian data from the coalface. The paper concludes with some of the paths forward to increased capacity indicated from participant feedback and adds some examples of what comparable sectors overseas are doing.

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ID Code: 3543
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: non profit organisations, capacity
ISBN: 1741071089
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIAL WORK (160700) > Social Program Evaluation (160703)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 Kym M. Madden and Wendy A. Scaife
Deposited On: 17 Feb 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:12

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