Evaluating the effectiveness of online capacity building resources on capacity improvement of local Nigerian NGOs serving orphans and vulnerable children
Umeh, Chukwuemeka Anthony
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STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM: While non-governmental organizations (NGOs) play an important role in providing services, care and support to vulnerable populations, often small and medium sized NGOs in developing countries lack the capacity (i.e., systems and structures) to effectively carry out their functions. Many capacity-building interventions (e.g., staff training and technical assistance) are resource intensive, and not affordable to small and medium NGOs. The objective of this study is to assess the effectiveness of online capacity building resources, a non-conventional and less resource intensive capacity building method, in helping small and medium sized Nigerian NGOs build capacity. METHOD: We conducted a mixed-methods evaluation using a two-arm cluster randomized controlled trial with 72 NGOs across five states in Nigeria. All NGOs received a baseline organizational capacity assessment, using the Measuring Organizational Development and Effectiveness (MODE) tool. Organizational capacity was scored on a scale between 0 and 100, where the higher value indicates higher capacity. The treatment group received written recommendations and online resources on capacity building; the comparison group received only written recommendations. The outcome of interest was the change in the organizational capacity of the NGOs after six months measured using the MODE tool. Also, we conducted in-depth interviews of 25 NGO directors. RESULT: At baseline, young (age ≤ 10 years), and less resourced (annual budget <$25,000) NGOs had weaker organizational capacity. At endline, there was significant improvement in organizational capacity score for NGOs in both the experiment group (15.4 percentage points increase (p<0.0001)) and comparison group (19.1 percentage points increase (p<0.0001)). However, multilevel regression analysis showed no statistically significant difference in organizational capacity improvement between the two groups (p=0.09). Improvement in organizational capacity was inversely associated with baseline organizational capacity (p<0.0001). Qualitative data showed that peer networking, engagement of stakeholders in organizations’ capacity building decision making, and internal task sharing bolstered organizations’ ability to improve capacity. CONCLUSION: Capacity assessment and provision of written capacity building recommendations to NGOs (with or without online resources) helped small and mid-sized NGOs strengthen their organizational capacity within six months. The effectiveness of the intervention is greater among NGOs with weaker organizational capacity at baseline.