Capacity building is an ongoing process through which individuals, groups, organizations and societies enhance their ability to identify and meet development challenges. CRS' role is to facilitate learning. This is partially accomplished by providing resources and training, but is most effectively done with a partner or in a Global Solidarity Partnership where a parish or diocese in the U.S. partners with a diocese overseas.
CRS' capacity building activities are based on three key elements:
- Organizational development
- Civil society strengthening
CRS' guiding partnership principles emphasize the importance of building just relationships with local partners and strengthening their skills in areas such as strategic planning, advocacy, organizational management, and project development and management.
Who Do These Activities Reach?
CRS has a history of and strong commitment to strengthening local partner organizations. Since its creation, the agency has operated through partner agencies worldwide, including thousands of religious and nonsectarian non-governmental organizations, community groups and host country governments. Because of our shared vision and common values, CRS often partners with local Catholic dioceses or Caritas organizations.
Because of its unique partnership strategy, CRS rarely implements projects directly. The vast majority of projects are implemented through the local organizations with which the agency has ongoing relationships. Therefore, strengthening the organizational capacity of these partner organizations is fundamental to programs in every country in which CRS works.
As a result of its focus on justice, the agency also recognizes that improving the lives of the poor and disadvantaged goes beyond simply providing their basic needs. The poor are the agents of change and must play a central role in their own development.
All countries, including those wracked by civil unrest and prolonged war, have the capacity to address local concerns, problems, and vulnerabilities - however nascent or weak. Capacity building helps individuals exercise their rights and responsibilities and improve their lives and communities through advocacy, negotiation and cooperative action.
Background of CRS' Capacity Building Program
For many years capacity building was viewed relatively narrowly as providing local organizations with the capacity required to meet CRS' project goals or reporting requirements. This often took the form of assisting with administration, physical infrastructure (providing vehicles or computers) and training.
In 1987, CRS' Board of Directors called for "new international partnerships, especially with developing countries, based on mutual respect, cooperation, and a dedication to fundamental justice." Since then, institution building has become a cornerstone of CRS' work.
CRS' relationships with the local church and other humanitarian and social action organizations have become increasingly important in recent years due to:
The phenomenal growth of civil society organizations and an increased recognition of their role in a changing world.
A growing realization that partnerships are necessary to meet the enormous challenges facing developing countries.
The interconnectedness of our work and the need to cross boundaries and live in solidarity with people around the world.
As civil society organizations assume a greater role in the work previously done by CRS in developing and delivering services to the poor, the agency looks at new ways to coordinate with them and further develop their abilities.
CRS recognizes that education is an ongoing process and we continue to learn as much from our partners as they learn from us. In this way, CRS is building its own capacity to implement programs in the most effective way possible.
CRS' Technical Partners and Donors
CRS' global strategic partners include:
- Food Aid Management (FAM) Working Group on Capacity Building
- Global Excellence in Management (The GEM Initiative) - CRS formed a two-year partnership with GEM to jointly learn about effective partnerships.
Complementing the support of many private donors, CRS receives funding from a variety of sources including:
- United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau of Humanitarian Response Offices of Private Voluntary Cooperation and Food for Peace
- USAID local in-country missions