64 Community Engagement and Collaboration | Considerations | Capacity to collaborate

Another important consideration is your capacity to collaborate, as well as the community’s capacity to collaborate. As outlined by the Centre for Studies on Poverty and Social Citizenship (CSPSC) at Carleton University (2019), capacity generally refers to the resources needed to successfully, and confidently, accomplish the project. All aspects of community engagement should consider, and respect, everyone’s individual capacity to collaborate — and it is very important to have open discussions around capacity throughout projects. Specifically, CSPSC’s Community-Based Research Toolkit: A Project Development Checklist, notes that:

Discussing realistic expectations and limitations can clarify the research process and help buffer against issues down the road (time crunches, disagreements, etc.). Undertaking an effective research project is a lot of work, so ensuring that the capacity exists for it to be accomplished is important to avoid any mid-term realizations that it’s too much to do. (p. 10)

Another important note around capacity is that nonprofit community partners may specifically struggle with capacity to collaborate in larger projects — which is a further limitation to these groups being authentically and equitably engaged. Gregory and Howard (2009) have noted that many nonprofits may exist in a “starvation cycle”, where they lack reliable funding for critical infrastructure to support the ongoing functioning of an organization (please note that the reasons behind this “starvation cycle” are complicated and go beyond the scope of this module, for more in-depth information refer to the work by Gregory and Howard, 2009). Overall, capacity should inform a group’s discussion and expectations. Additionally, the above-mentioned checklist by CSPSC (2019) references several resources for assessing and mapping community assets, which may help to support an understanding of capacity.


Magnifying glass iconAfter reviewing the above resources on accessibility, please revisit the module worksheet and complete section 14.




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