“Capacity Building” for ALL Community Organizations

By now, you have probably heard of the initiative that is Change.org.  This is the site where people are submitting their ideas for changing America, to help inform the Obama Administration’s policies.

On behalf of the Community-Driven Institute, I have submitted an idea.

I have proposed that there be infrastructure in all communities across the country, to support Community Benefit Organizations in their work. (Details below).

I believe this is so important to the work we are all doing, that I am using today’s post to ask you to head to www.Change.org and vote for this initiative.  And if you are so inclined, I hope you will pass it along, to encourage others to vote for it as well.  (The deadline for voting is December 31 – this Wednesday – so if you are going to pass it to others, please do so quickly!)

If each and every reader at this blog clicks through to vote for this idea, it will make the first cut. That’s all it would take – if every reader here clicked and voted! So please do so now (or if you want, read below first).

The initiative I have suggested is titled “Infrastructure to Support ALL Community Organizations.” Here is how I described it at www.Change.org:

In every community, no matter how small, Nonprofit / Community Benefit Organizations are working to make that community more healthy, vibrant, and humane. Animal welfare, human services, environmental, arts, education and every issue in between – those efforts make our communities more livable.

To ensure those efforts are strong enough to simultaneously address current problems AND create a better future for our communities, ALL those organizations need help in maintaining strong internal capacity – ongoing education in running the “business” side of their efforts, help with board development and fundraising, support for working cooperatively, etc.

Communities already have infrastructure for our basic needs – police, fire, roads, water, power, sewer. We have infrastructure for schools, libraries, parks, and economic development activities. Regardless of the state of that infrastructure, it at least exists.

Imagine the dramatic results our communities would see if there was also reliable infrastructure for strengthening the work being done by all those many groups, to help build upon and expand the work they are already doing to improve our quality of life!

Those systems might include:
• Systems for organizational education (board development, fundraising, community engagement, planning and evaluation, etc.)
• Systems for facilitating cooperative approaches to community issues
• Systems to facilitate Learning Communities / Communities of Practice
• Systems to facilitate resource sharing between organizations
• Systems for community-wide program evaluation
• Systems for supporting funders in their efforts to improve their communities

Private Community Benefit Organizations have the potential to significantly improve the quality of life in our communities. It only makes sense that there be infrastructure in every community to support those efforts in every way possible.

Once the winners of this round are chosen, the top 10 ideas to emerge out of Round 2 will be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day and will be supported by a national lobbying campaign run by Change.org, MySpace, and other leaders in this sector. So each idea has a real chance at becoming policy!

As the Community-Driven Institute continues to create a movement for changing how the Community Benefit Sector does its work, having infrastructure to support ALL organizations in every community across the country will be a huge help. After reading what is posted at the link, I hope you will agree and click to vote for that initiative.

We are very excited about the possibilities this brings. Win or lose, we will continue to advocate for changes such as this, as we know it is critical to building the strength of our sector.

If anyone has any comments or thoughts about this initiative, I hope you will share them – either below in the comment section here, or in the comment section at Change.org.

But first, please – go vote!

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