Programmatic capacity is demonstrated by achieving results. This is most often seen around lakes through projects and efforts to protect and restore lake health: restoring shoreland plant communities, installing rain gardens, or preventing aquatic invasive species. We have identified five aspects of programmatic capacity that strongly influence a group's ability to get things done. These five overlap in varying degree with membership, organizational, and relational capacity. Programmatic capacity does depend on strengths in those other areas, and it would be hard to imagine an organization that consistently "gets things done" but is weak in those foundational areas.
Our five aspects of programmatic capacity include:
Leadership: The organization has invested in process to recruit and train leaders on an ongoing basis that are decisive, honest, and knowledgeable and who are capable of listening, decision-making, and solving disputes to ensure that active leadership is available for all necessary tasks.
Completion of Demonstration Projects: The organization has taken a project from an identified need to completion by recruiting necessary technical and financial resources and working together to reach a stated goal.
Growing Expertise: The organization has formally assessed and developed a plan to resolve training gaps that are limiting the organizations ability to communicate effectively about their key issues or to address other organizational deficiencies.
Access to Funding: Support for the organization is diversified and represents that other groups (foundations, agencies, etc.) are supportive of the mission.
Access to Community Power: The organization is effective at coordinating action with other community groups, has the support of local officials or community leader, and works to actively position the mission as part of broader community priorities.
These five aspects are useful focus areas for an organization to explore, but we are also certain that a group with high programmatic capacity will demonstrate that "the proof of the pudding is in the eating". That is, they will be the groups engaged in numerous activities to restore and protect lake health. They participate in Citizens Lake Monitoring, and they also participate in Water Action Volunteers to monitor nearby streams. They have numerous Healthy Lakes projects going on, everything from fish sticks to French drains. They are hold interesting annual meetings that engage everyone in the watershed. They conserve and restore critical land on the lakeshore and in the watershed. These activities, more than anything else, illustrate what it means to have high programmatic capacity.