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White House Hosts Meeting on Nonprofit Capacity Building

Ben O'Dell describes how the White House hosted a meeting as the first step of many toward implementing Advisory Council recommendations.

Last month, the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, in collaboration with the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, held a meeting with leaders from a variety of sectors to gather ideas and perspectives on the role of the Federal Government can play in strengthening the nonprofit sector. I had the pleasure of leading part of the discussion organized in response to a recommendation in the most recent report by the President’s Advisory Council for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships for a strategic review of government-supported technical assistance and capacity building. 
In their recommendations for the Reform of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the Advisory Council recognized that Federal capacity building efforts are critically important to providing the resources and tools that can strengthen the ability of nonprofits to serve their communities. One example of capacity building that leaders highlighted was the support that government has provided for organizations providing HIV/AIDS service through the Ryan White AIDS Program. These efforts have supported the growth of a whole field of health and social services over the past 20 years that have helped provide treatment and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.

While Federal efforts for capacity building have been important, there is wide consensus that these efforts need to be streamlined, better coordinated and more effectively implemented to support the government's partners in the nonprofit sector.

At our meeting, we agreed to establish an interagency working group who will conduct the review recommended by the Advisory Council and provide coordination and implementation of further nonfprofit capacity building efforts.

As a result of the input and support from these private stakeholders, we are committed to:
• Continue the dialogue on how the Federal Government should communicate with and support the nonprofit sector.
• Gather information from Federal agencies on their capacity building efforts and resources for nonprofits.
• Consider how the Federal Government can more effectively bring together sector-wide resources.
Meeting with groups outside of government was as an important opportunity to learn from leaders working on capacity building with nonprofits across the country. I am looking forward to these next steps as we continue to find ways to work together to strengthen the capacity of the nonprofit sector.

Ben O'Dell is Deputy Director at the Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships