The purpose of this study was to understand the relationship between capacity-building activities and the capacity found in community-based organizations. This qualitative study examined the impact of capacity-building activities such as board development, staff training, fundraising, and leadership development to understand what factors were present and if they increased the level of capacity. The literature revealed that little to no agreement exists in the field of capacity building around the frameworks for successful development of capacity in community-based organizations. This subgroup of nonprofits was rarely identified as such in the literature. Definitions of capacity building can be summed up as the ability of nonprofits to achieve their mission. The broad terminology "nonprofit" was most often used when presenting frameworks and capacity factors related to improving capacity. The literature was rich with definitions and what constitutes capacity. There were common themes around what factors were necessary for organizations to be successful such as aspiration, strategy, leadership, human resources, systems, and infrastructure. The methodology used in this study consisted of a perception analysis of participating subjects which was completed by experts in the field; capacity assessments conducted by executives from participating organizations; a review of relevant documents including board minutes, publications, and financial statements; and follow-up interviews with the executives to probe deeper into the capacity-building activities employed. A comparison analysis was conducted of the results from the perception analysis and capacity surveys incorporating data from the document review and feedback from the interviews. The principal result of the study supports the notion that capacity building has a positive impact on increasing the organization's capacity--no matter how minor the capacity-building activities appear. There are indications in the findings that organizations that engaged in capacity building were perceived and assessed as having higher capacity than those that did not. The results also indicate that there need to be more research studies conducted among subgroups that participated in this study. The literature had minimum information related specifically to community-based organizations that are located in and serve clients living in low-income neighborhoods.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Research projects (MSOD); Nonprofit organizations

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Feyerherm, Ann;