Capacity Building Programs

We are experienced in designing and administering specialized programs for grantmakers, management support organizations, and other capacity builders interested in improving nonprofit effectiveness. We support our clients by serving as an objective facilitator and critical friend to solicit and relay objective feedback from current and prospective stakeholders and participants.


We use these findings to develop a customized program that aligns your priorities with the needs of the communities you wish to serve. 

Grantmaking institutions, management support organizations, and capacity builders hold influential positions in their communities, and as a result, it can be difficult to get honest and open feedback from the nonprofits they support.

With years of experience on both sides of table, we bring a nuanced perspective that helps us get to the absolute most critical issues at hand and uncover potential challenges for our clients' capacity building goals.   

Our Unique Approach

 We design and execute stakeholder-centered capacity building programs, with a mix of organizational assessments, technical assistance, grant funds, and peer learning . Our model has four phases rooted in program design frameworks:

Set Preliminary Priorities

We facilitate conversations with you and your planning committee to articulate your capacity building priorities, identify “hunches” and perceptions about community needs, and set goals and strategies for stakeholder engagement.

Engage Stakeholders

Through interviews, focus groups, and research, we solicit thorough feedback from external stakeholders to inform findings about nonprofits’ most critical needs, challenges, and potential barriers to participation. Our research extends to documenting the field’s best practices, whether locally or in similar communities across the country.

Develop Customized Programs

We use the findings to design a specialized initiative that meets your specific goals. We draft program guidelines, recruit program facilitators and prepare them with a train-the-trainers workshop, and create a phased communications plan to ensure a productive program rollout. 

Provide Ongoing Technical Assistance

While we have experience administering numerous capacity building programs, we encourage all clients to manage their programs with local facilitators who reflect the values and intrinsic characteristics of your target participants. We will continue provide technical assistance and coaching support during the first few months of implementation to ensure that the program kicks off smoothly.

In 2017, we were tapped by CAH to design a new program to build the capacity of small, grassroots, and emerging nonprofits. Through research and focus groups, we tackled tough issues of lack of access to financial resources, historically prohibitive funding practices, and advancements in equity and inclusion that need to incorporate leaders of the city's smaller nonproftis. From these findings, and with collaboration from CAH, we designed LiftOff to create a safe space for these leaders to learn promising management practices from their peers and other experts in the field, while also providing new sources of CAH grant funding and sustained technical assistance over the life of their projects.

Client spotlight

DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH)

For more information, contact us at

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

© 2019 by Carlyn Madden Consulting Services.

All rights reserved.