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Nonprofit Capacity Building on a Shoestring

September 6th, 2016 by Susan Fitter Harris

For community development corporations and other nonprofits, the work of building capacity is never done. Whether you’ve launched new initiatives or programs, experienced staff turnover or weathered changes in your local environment, your organization will need to build or rebuild capacity from time to time. Unfortunately, many nonprofits operate with thin margins and have little in the way of resources to devote to staff training or consultant expertise.

We spoke with Joe Kriesberg, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC), for his thoughts on how CDCs can boost their capacity without spending a lot of money. His advice? Drink coffee.

“I ask people to have to have coffee all the time,” says Kriesberg. For example, “if I want to learn about RAD [Rental Assistance Demonstration], I will call someone who knows about RAD and ask if we can have coffee and they can explain it to me. I can learn more in a 45-minute coffee than in a training,” he continues, because he is directing the conversation and learning exactly what he needs to learn. In turn, Kriesberg makes himself available to peers and colleagues to talk about topics in which he has expertise.

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