CRS believes that unjust systems and structures are transformed by committed communities and their institutions. By partnering with and strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations, CRS has demonstrated that strong institutions with capable staff can design, implement, evaluate, and sustain effective development interventions. This capacity strengthening approach is vital because people and organizations are active participants in their progress rather than passive beneficiaries.
With technical assistance and quality assurance from CRS, over 3,000 local agencies -- including religious and nonsecular nongovernmental organizations, community groups, and host country governments -- implement high-impact projects in over 100 countries. The profound experience of seeing stronger institutions create and sustain change has led CRS to regard partnership and capacity strengthening as fundamental to every development effort.
Solidarity and Subsidiarity
- navigate complex political or cultural waters, avoiding pitfalls that may undermine a program;
- quickly identify needy populations and address their most urgent problems;
- leverage and complement existing networks, relationships, and supply chains avoiding redundancies;
- lay a firm foundation to sustain and expand the program’s impact.
Fostering & Complementing Local Capacity
Development programs and agencies often "import" technical expertise, overlooking local resources. CRS asks institutions about existing assets and gaps, filling in with external expertise only when necessary, and helps communities and local agencies assess the external environment for possible threats and opportunities. Through the course of implementation, CRS programs transfer skills and knowledge -- be they specialized agricultural techniques or proficiency with accounting software -- directly to partners. CRS experts share through training, practical application of new skills, and ongoing mentoring and supportive supervision. CRS experts also continuously learn from their local counterparts.
Strengthening Organizational Capacity
Every organization must perform certain functions in order to be financially, programmatically, and managerially sustainable. Few institutions can do this without organizational development support, and while local organizations often face extraordinary challenges, CRS has found that they are also especially committed to the process of becoming more effective, efficient, and sustainable.
CRS’s approach to institutional strengthening is founded on decades of experience and constant refinement, and grounded in proven principles of organizational development, adult learning, change management, behavior change, and the principles of transparency, ownership, and respect for local autonomy. CRS works with partner organizations to support individuals and teams to master and internalize new knowledge and skills, emphasizing their relevance and application. Since each organization’s context is constantly changing -- funding levels rise and fall, conflicts erupt, natural disasters strike -- learning how to adapt is as valuable as acquiring technical skills. CRS’s participative approach strengthens a group’s adaptive capacity as well as discrete skills or policies.
Tools and approaches
To help its partners, CRS uses a variety of organizational development tools and approaches developed and tested at the country-program level.
- Identity & governance
- Strategy & planning
- General management
- External relations & partnerships
- Organizational learning
- Human resources management
- Financial & physical resource management
- Information & communication technology (ICT)
- Monitoring & evaluation (M&E)
- Procurement / supply chain
- Program quality (design, implementation, monitoring)
- Coaching & mentoring
- Training & peer-to-peer learning
- Organizational design & restructuring
- Compliance & USG regulations
- Gender & diversity audits
- Job share & secondment
- Program & management
- Equipment & software purchases & training quality assurance