Organizations have personalities just like the people that populate them. Some organizations are immature, some are older and wiser. Some are single-minded (like preserving a particular tract of land) and some are focused broadly over a wide range of topics (like climate change). Some are formal, with Boards and Bylaws and subcommittees, while others are loosely organized.
Whatever the organization’s personality, it was created by people that had a passion for a subject — local foods, the environment, children’s health and safety, or preserving the town hall. Also like people, organizations have lifespans. Some live long and have transitioned through many generations of leaders. Others have much shorter lives, sometimes intentionally, but more often because some unanticipated event (conflict, lack of leadership, mission creep, financial difficulties) infects the organization and causes permanent damage.
The degree of success that groups will have is, in part, determined by the skills they have to manage and sustain themselves. Leaders of strong, vibrant organizations understand that transferring the skills necessary to manage an organization are equally important as the passion that drives the mission. Without both in place an organization cannot survive.
“Capacity” is the term often used to refer to those organizational survival skills. The UVM Extension Community Capacity project is about helping individuals build the skills they need to grow the capacity of the organizations they serve. Stay tuned, there is a lot more on this coming your way.