A guest blog by Sharon Norton, Director of Development for The Mathile Institute for the Advancement of Human Nutrition
Traditionally, capacity building, especially in the non-profit sector, often deals with internally-focused activities associated with developing and improving the organization and its effectiveness in the here and now. What is often neglected, however, is an external focus to this activity.
What that means is that in our pursuit of eradicating hunger and malnutrition we must also highly prioritize and resource the development of strategies and action plans that will allow each of us to pass the baton onto the next generation of hunger fighters who will be ready and able to end world hunger and global food insecurity in the years ahead.
The Mathile Institute for the Advancement of Human Nutrition just completed a research project with youth in the United States to determine the best way to pass that baton to the next generation. The good news is that there is an enormous hidden army out there comprised of teens with a rapidly developing social conscience, a relatively wide global perspective and huge desire to help. They recognize that global hunger exists. What they don’t know is exactly how they can help-- thus the need for externally-focused capacity building.
What that means for our organization is largely shifting our capacity building activities on creating and nurturing the hothouse where this able-bodied group of teens can become aware of global hunger issues, learn how to innovate and create solutions that can make a measurable impact. We ultimately want to empower them to take actions that will result in sustainable solutions to fighting hunger.
Like it or not, the reality is that we need to “sell” this idea to this group just like any other product they might purchase. The issue of world hunger is competing with many other important social issues and bona fide personal concerns among this age group. For this reason, we must find ways to make this issue resonate personally so they are challenged and inspired, but also arm them with the insight and know-how they need now so they can make rapid and real advances on fighting world hunger in the very near future.
This is the real organizational effectiveness we need to bring to the forefront. The development of this hidden army of future hunger fighters is the efficient and effective solution to ending hidden hunger and global food insecurity to countless children and families worldwide.