why do we strengthen CBO organizational capacity?

Each organization will have its own definition of program success and thus have different needs in order to achieve that success.  Regardless of size, they all want to be effective organizations whose work positively impacts their communities. Drawing on the expertise of our own Program Officers and Lead Partners, as well as best-in-class technical consultants and experts from across the continent and the globe, we build the organizational capacity needed by CBOs to run an effective organization such as financial management, governance, strategic planning, and information systems.

The story of Zimbabwean Firelight CBO grantee-partner Sikhethimpilo Centre illustrates the power of this organizational capacity building:


In Matebeleland South, a remote region south of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Sikhethimpilo Centre serves more than 2,000 children who have lost their parents to HIV-related illnesses, providing them with vocational skills training, emotional support, HIV and AIDS education and prevention, and home-based care services to build their futures. Sikhethimpilo thoughtfully engages community members in developing and running their programs, as well as strengthening the community’s capacity to care for orphans.

Firelight had funded the Sikhethimpilo Centre for years via the Sibambene AIDS Programme of the Archdiocesse of Bulawayo and knew the organization as a trusted community partner. So when Sibambene’s funding collapsed, Firelight decided to extend its funding timeline with Sikhethimpilo and support it through what would be a major transition as an organization.  

The decision to become an independent organization meant Sikhethimpilo had to register with the government, recruit and train a board, and manage their own finances and fundraising. Firelight staff supported the organization through every step of the process, assisting in the harnessing, set up, and management of its operational board, as well as workshop facilitation for volunteers, mentors, and community leaders. In addition, because of Firelight support in organizational capacity building, Sikhethimpilo secured several of their past funding sources and mobilized new funds from local businesses.

“We grew because of the Firelight Foundation — from the board to the templates of evaluation they spearheaded. We got funds directly because of Firelight for our ECD program in the Matoba district and used Firelight as a reference so that we now have funds from two other groups.”  – Sikhethimpilo staff member

After the internationally controversial and much condemned government-led crackdown to “forcibly clear” slum areas – known as Operation Murambatsvina (“move the rubbish”) – directly affected an estimated 700,000 Zimbabweans, Sikhethimpilo was one of five civil society organizations selected by UNICEF to provide psychosocial assistance to children and youth affected by the crackdown. Sikhethimpilo has also received government recognition –specifically requested by the Zimbabwean government to increase their work around HIV prevention – a notable endorsement for their invaluable and effective work and their strength as an organization.

Through Firelight partnership and support in organizational capacity building, Sikhethimpilo weathered its transition, sustained and grew its activities and support network, earned international recognition, and secured new funding resources over the years – helping to sustain its impact for years to come.