capacity building



I have something to show for my time with the Transmission Project so far. Today I published an article on past Corps members' experiences working with Salesforce databases. I would like to thank Billy especially for creating the graphics and prepping the document for PDF format.

Comment from David Beaton on August 24, 2010 - 8:06pm

What is the link to the article?

Comment from Howard Fisher on August 25, 2010 - 10:22am

Sorry about that, Dave. I've added the document as an attachment for your convenience.

Comment from Philip Dahl on August 25, 2010 - 6:56pm

Woot! that's the same reason I like the field reports. So i can learn things that other people learn through their real life experiences. Nice post Ward, keep em coming! You still have to post the old ads for DAS Corps! :-P

Wait, it's fall already?


Hey Dascorps folks! The time is zooming by, as several of you have mentioned. Things are good here, though very busy! A few things that are gong on:

-PCF just launched a new project today - - it's a collaborative Q&A site related to video production, so I'd love it if you all would stop by and ask/answer questions, and spread the word!

Comment from Mira Allen on October 14, 2009 - 4:32pm

I'm excited for you to be going to the thing in DC. I wanted to go, but I had scheduling conflicts. Def keep us posted on what you learn.

Comment from Anne Jonas on October 14, 2009 - 4:38pm

it should be interesting - you can also check out the #nprthink hashtag on twitter for related stuff: - from this event - .

Capacity Building


Honestly, in July, I had no idea of the concept of “building capacity”. But today I am getting to see some results. All it took was almost blinded diligent work in the first couple of months as a VISTA. It began with surveying email news blast tools (I know it’s very low tech work) and finally choosing Constant Contact (sorry VR peeps).

6 Volunteer Management Presentations


These are some of the resources I present to donors and to agencies. They are rough and they require extra explanation in many places. But, since I haven't trademarked them, unfortunately, I am sharing them with you. Feel free to email me with any questions...I also have a list of websites and reading that supplement this. I'll get it on the wiki sometime soon hopfully.

Building the Project's Capacity


Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of research on capacity building: What is it? How can we evaluate it? Is there a “best practice” approach to capacity building? Is there a common conceptual framework for capacity building? What are the benefits of doing it? Who should do it? How do you promote capacity building in your organization? In what ways can CTC VISTA build its capacity?

Comment from Mike Moore on July 18, 2007 - 3:32pm

Haven't read your articles yet as I write this.

My thoughts:

One way to think of this, a way I think of it, is
building in efficiency. That takes getting to know
the "rhythm" so to speak of an organization - how,
why they do what they do.

Efficiency should be, my understanding, something
consistent with how an individual works, an organization's
process, workflow, philosophy, policies, an individuals as well as an organization's likes and dislikes. That takes some time to get to know.

And it's also, my understanding, giving them capacity
consistent with your given organizational mission and abilities.


Almost regardless of the organization you're involved
with, these underlying concerns may provide a springboard
to possible capacity building:

inventory tracking
software licensing
user literacy (training / tutorials)
development tools
online presence (RSS, website, infrastructure, etc)
developmental resources / contacts
organizational process improvements

Basically, as I see it, answering the fundamental question,
how can I within the scope of my responsibilities and
expertise help them do what they do better, more efficiently,
less effort, more bang. Sometimes it's readily apparent.
Something as simple as developing a checkout system
for a shared resource allowing them to do a better job
of tracking and scheduling. Other times it may not be
so readily apparent. You might have to ask questions,
see how they do what they do, get a feel for what their
daily routines and rhythms are.

Taking that time, increases the likelihood that whatever
suggestions, recommendations or changes you attempt to
implement will be consistent with rather than at odds with
their efforts, workflow and goals.

Put yourself in their shoes.

Most people don't appreciate having changes made in their
routine, by people they may not know or trust who may know little or nothing about them, what they do, why they do it.
What you propose is likely to be unhelpful, unused and resented
on that basis alone, nevermind the potential benefits.

All this is involved in leaving things better than you
found them. Capacity building is a collaborative effort
which involves the consent and cooperation of those you
hope to build the capacity of.

My best successes have been taking all that I've said here
into account. Sometimes people are perfectly content with
their system and process. It works for them. That's all
they need to know. And that perspective deserves respect.

Best of luck in your efforts.

Big Job


I've been here two full weeks now and my boss has been gone for a week and 1/2 of that. Plus, she's going on vacay next week, so I'm kinda winging it. The good news about that is that I'm getting the opportunity to settle into the job and people watch while getting comfortable. The bad news is that my boss and a few others are the only ones that know I'm a VISTA.

Comment from Ben Sheldon on July 6, 2007 - 4:34pm

I'm sorry to hear you're having trouble being recognized around the office. I'd recommend wearing the VISTA shirt, but honestly, I never wore it either (eww, polyester). Maybe we should have sashes :-) Of course, the best way to be recognized is for doing a great job, and it sounds like you're doing it.

We'd really appreciate any help you can provide on the wiki. Also, we're trying to expand our library at CTC VISTA HQ, so please let us know if there are any books on volunteer management you can recommend.

Thanks for the update and keep up the good work!

Comment from Kevin Palmer on July 8, 2007 - 12:30am

Just keep showing up. Everyday. Work hard. Just like you are. People will get the idea. I've definitely been in the situation where someone introduced me as a VISTA and I was ignored/mitigated. Only after showing up and working hard day after day did people start to understand who I was as a VISTA. Also if you want to shoot me whatever you're getting on the volunteer management front I'll post it to the Wiki for you. Nice deal on getting Sysco and IBM on board as a volunteer base, too!

Comment from Morgan Sully on July 10, 2007 - 2:22pm

Hey Kelli,
Bummer about the 'huh? you're not needed' attitude you're encountering. People sometimes miss just what a VISTA is - we're not exactly employees, nor are we volunteers - we're VISTAs. When I say 'domestic PeaceCorps' people seem to get it. VISTAs do invaluable work around the country in many different regions and you're now writing a part of that 40 year old legacy with the work you do.

keep it up sister,

"All that is possible is seeking expression though human beings."

Comment from Kelli Williams on July 10, 2007 - 4:06pm

Thanks for you positive comments Morgan,I really appreciate it. I probably should have said more good things about the people I'm working with. The ones I'm actually WORKING with, and Ms. You're Superfluous isn't one of them, are really very positive and happy to have me. There are three people in the office that have actually been VISTAS before, 2 are my bosses. Surprisingly, the 3rd was an Americorps direct service for EIGHT years and she still snubs me. Go figure. So anyway, for the most part-my coworkers have been great. But I really appreciate your insight, thanks a lot!- Kelli

Comment from Kelli Williams on July 10, 2007 - 4:09pm

Hi Kevin, thanks for the support. I should have a free morning this Friday so I'm going to try and get my info organized to send it to you. If you'd post it that would be great and I'll certainly take you up on that offer! Thanks again!-Kelli

Comment from danielle martin on July 11, 2007 - 5:06pm

On the "explaining you're a VISTA" front, I have to admit, I pick my battles. If I'm trying to get something simple, I may just go with "I'm an intern" but if I'm meeting community partners who count, I go into the spiel. But what's really helped me is having a great supervisor (Thaddeus) who really gets what VISTAs do and having HIM explain it to people. Maybe get a few people on board to take the giving the spiel off your shoulders alone.

ALSO - tell me more about this "psuedo-digital storytelling medium"? Digital storytelling is sorta my gig this should check out and tell me what you think.


FINALLY blogging!


Wow, I haven't blogged since November. 

I've been meaning to do it. Thinking about doing it. Feeling like I should do it. But now I'm actually doing it. A nice quiet Friday afternoon presents the perfect time to blog.

 So, what have I been up to? Planning workshops, teaching workshops, going to meetings, working on curriculum materials, and helping with a website project for digital storytelling facilitators. That's the past few months in a nutshell.

Comment from Corey Funderburk on March 15, 2007 - 1:32pm

Hi Jessica,

That does sound a bit stressful, but you sound like you're handling it quite well! That's pretty nifty you get your own interns and three at that! You should definitely take a Yoga class or something of that nature. Laura and I have a few favorite weekly TV shows that give us something stress-free to look forward to. Do you have a bike you can ride around or a favorite coffee shop? Anyway, keep up the good work, it's good to hear your blog-voice again! :)


Similar Projects


The following is a list of projects similar to the Digital Arts Service Corps.