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Nonprofit Capacity Building

By Sharon Kandris, Director, Community Informatics and SAVI Director

There are approximately 55,000 nonprofits registered in the state of Indiana. They are vital to our communities and improve our individual and community quality of life. How do nonprofits ensure they are doing the best they can at fulfilling their mission? “Nonprofit Capacity Building refers to activities that improve and enhance a nonprofit organization’s ability to achieve its mission and sustain itself over time.” (National Council of Nonprofits)

Paul Connolly and Carol Lukas, in their book Strengthening Nonprofit Performance: A Funder’s Guide to Capacity Building, identify six components of organizational capacity that contribute to an organization’s health and performance: 1) Mission, Vision, and Strategy; 2) Governance and Leadership; 3) Program Delivery and Impact; 4) Strategic Relationships; 5) Finance; and 6) Internal Operations and Management. Nonprofit capacity buildingaims to improve on one or more of these areas and includes such things as fundraising, marketing, communications, program planning, information technology, strategic planning, volunteer management, networking, governance, operations, human resources, and board development.

There are many organizations and consultants around the state that provide services focused on some aspect of nonprofit capacity building. Here are two of our partners that are doing a great job of it:

United Way of Central Indiana’s Nonprofit Training Center works with nonprofits in Central Indiana to build core competencies through public workshops, customized workshops tailored to specific organizational needs, technical assistance, consulting, and recommended reading resources. The staff work one-on-one with organizations to identify their capacity building needs and then train them, provide consulting, or refer them to consultants that will provide the skills, knowledge, or services needed. It is part of a statewide network, Indiana Nonprofit Resource Network, which is coordinated by the Indiana Association of United Ways.

Indiana Grantmakers Alliance builds capacity in philanthropic organizations across the state through advocacy, education, information, and networking opportunities. Their annual fall conference is one of its primary avenues for doing so.

The Polis Center’s SAVI Program builds capacity in nonprofits to use data for informed decision-making by providing community data, actionable information, training, and consulting. The ability to use data effectively improves an organization’s planning, fundraising, evaluation, and marketing efforts, to name a few. SAVI is partnering with the Indiana Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives to present a conference on service and nonprofit capacity building. Other conference collaborators include the Indiana Grantmakers Alliance, United Way Nonprofit Training Center, the IU Center on Philanthropy, IN Office of the Attorney General, and the Indiana CTSI Community Health Engagement Program. Participants will have opportunities to network and learn from experts and peers ways to improve their marketing, social media, data analysis, fundraising, volunteer management, and collaboration skills.

Please join us in Indianapolis on Oct. 2, 2012 for the Indiana Governor’s Conference on Service and Nonprofit Capacity Building. Registration is now open!

For more on Nonprofit Capacity Building, there is a great resource list including reading materials and links to relevant national associations and organizations at The Foundation Center.


Deep Maps: Better Stories, Better Services

Sharon Kandris
Sharon Kandris

By Sharon Kandris, Director, Community Informatics and SAVI

Imagine a map of your neighborhood or of the community you serve.  Many people think of dots representing points of interest, perhaps boundaries, maybe something portraying the demographics of the area and the resources available.  This is useful and informative, but it also provides a limited view of the community.  It portrays the community the way the map creator wants to depict it, for good or for bad.

Now, imagine a “map” that virtually immerses you in the neighborhood and allows you to explore and discover information about the neighborhood’s history, its culture, how it relates to other neighborhoods, how it has been impacted by regional or even national events, and how it relates to the organizations that operate within or serve that area.  Imagine photographs from fifty years ago and audio recordings of people in the neighborhood describing what it was like to grow up there – and hearing that from multiple perspectives (the businessman, the resident, the old, the young, the black, the white).  Imagine linking that with data to understand racial and economic differences and how that impacts varying viewpoints and how that has changed over time.  Imagine being able to use all of this to share stories of the neighborhood with an on-line, interactive tool.  This is the concept of a “deep map.”

What’s the significance to nonprofits, community-based organizations, and researchers?  This will help us understand community dynamics, relationships between and among organizations and communities, and how and why community issues (health, education, poverty, etc.) differ by place.  With this knowledge, we can better focus our services and resources to address community concerns.  And, it promises to change the way we share the stories of our communities!

During the last two weeks of June, 20 scholars from around the world came to The Polis Center and worked together to define a “deep map”.  The participants wrote blogs during the institute, each providing a window into the process of defining a deep map, the important elements of a deep map, and how the deep map will change the way we discover and represent information about our communities.  Here are links to several of those blogs:

Defining Deep Maps

Wordling to a Definition

Experience, Place, Immersion (and Color)

Deep Mapmakers as Artists

Quest for Deep Maps

Catch the Wind

All of the blog posts can be found on The Polis Center’s Blog

Wordling to a definition

By Scott Nesbit and Don Lafreniere

NEH Advanced Institute Scholars

We’ve had some fruitful conversations attempting to define what constitutes a deep map.  We used wordle to attempt to organize our thoughts.  We decided to represent a version of our wordle here, aggregating the answers to the three questions while adding to our stopword list the most obvious characters: space, spatial, place, deep map, mapping, must.   As a point of comparison, we would like to juxtapose this list with one generated from the required readings we did before arriving, the essays collected in Spatial Narratives and Deep Maps.  We excluded footnotes and the obvious stopwords.

Here is the result:

These pieces of writing were different genres, clearly, but they point to ways that we might extend and revise our vocabulary as we come to an understanding of what we mean by deep maps.  Our list is much more focused on multiplicity; theirs has the word “one” in a prominent place.  Theirs places more emphasis on names, time and events; ours, on data and sources.  We studiously avoid referencing GIS; Geographic Information Systems feature prominently in theirs.  Our wordles find a common, prominent place for narrative.  We look forward to extending this conversation, beginning with our agreed-upon emphasis on narratives in space, which has always been at the core of our purpose in coming here.

(This post was originally published on Polis Center at IUPUI’s blog on June 22,2012)


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