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Read the two assigned articles and provide a brief review of the article(Clearly & succinctly addresses the major points of the article ), your major takeaways(At least three major takeaways were discussed in a reflection that demonstrates a critical, yet thoughtful reasoning of the article), and questions(At least three thoughtful questions were posed and discussed to the author(s)’ study and findings ) in response to the authors’ main findings. Approximately two pages per article is expected however, there are no page requirements. This assignment should be formatted in APA, double-spaced, and 12-point font.


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NVSXXX10.1177/0899764013509892Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector QuarterlyDoherty et al.
Toward a Multidimensional
Framework of Capacity in
Community Sport Clubs
Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
XX(X) 1­–19
© The Author(s) 2013
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0899764013509892
Alison Doherty1, Katie Misener2,
and Graham Cuskelly3
Community sport clubs are a type of membership association largely run by member
volunteers who organize and deliver opportunities for recreational and competitive
sport participation. These clubs are where people are most likely to engage in
organized sport, and have become a focus for achieving social policy objectives. It is
important to understand the structures and processes that enable these organizations
to meet their member-focused mandates. The purpose of this study was to develop
a framework of organizational capacity in this context by uncovering critical elements
within multiple capacity dimensions, namely, human resources, finance, infrastructure,
planning and development, and external relationships. Focus groups with presidents
of 51 sport clubs across Ontario revealed key strengths and challenges that impact
the ability of these organizations to achieve their sport delivery goals. Variation by
club size was observed. Implications for practice and future research on community
sport clubs and membership associations are presented.
organizational capacity, membership association, community sport
Membership associations are an intriguing subset of nonprofit organizations as they
offer a structure and place of identity for those with similar interests to come together
in an associational form of organization (Smith, 2009). Community sport clubs are an
University, London, Ontario, Canada
of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
3Griffith University, Queensland, Australia
Corresponding Author:
Alison Doherty, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Kinesiology, Western University, London, Ontario,
Canada N6A 3K7.
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Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly XX(X)
important type of membership association formed around a social contract between
people with a common interest in (a particular) sport (Thiel & Mayer, 2009). The
interests of individual members, and thus the collectivity (Tschirhart, 2006), are served
by the mandate of the local soccer, baseball, rowing club, and so forth, to provide
members with recreation and competitive programs that focus on both individual and
sport development.
Clubs are typically started by parents (e.g., a children’s soccer league) or participants themselves (e.g., a mountain biking club) in response to an identified need in the
community. They may be further classified as grassroots membership associations,
given their almost exclusive reliance on volunteers who tend to be drawn from the
members, their local focus, their relatively informal structure, and their modest budgets, the largest proportion of which comes from membership fees (Smith, 2000;
Tschirhart, 2006). Member volunteers engage in a variety of (often multiple) roles,
including planning and organizing for the club and any special events, fund-raising,
and coaching and related aspects of program delivery in support of the club’s mandate
(Cuskelly, Hoye, & Auld, 2006).
Community sport clubs provide opportunities for physical and mental health benefits, economic returns, and social capital that may accrue through the programs and
services they offer (organized physical recreation and sport) and the range of members
they serve (from children through to adults; Bloom, Grant, & Watt, 2005; Commission
of the European Communities, 2007; Doherty & Misener, 2008; Donnelly & Kidd,
2003). As such, they have become a focus for achieving social policy objectives as a
major player in the health and well-being of individuals and their communities
(Adams, 2007; Nicholson, Hoye, & Houlihan, 2011; Taylor, 2004). Notably, community sport clubs comprise one of the largest proportions of nonprofit voluntary organizations in many Western countries (Misener & Doherty, 2009) and are where people
are most likely to engage in organized sport (Adams, 2007; Misener & Doherty, 2009;
Wicker & Breuer, 2011). Given the pervasiveness of these organizations, and their role
in the lives of their members and communities, it is important to understand their
capacity to pursue their mandate related to community sport delivery.
Broadly understood, capacity is the ability of an organization to draw on various
assets and resources to achieve its mandate and objectives. It is important to understand the nature of those resources so that capacity may be accurately assessed, and
capacity building efforts may be effectively focused. Capacity building has been of
particular interest in the nonprofit and voluntary sector (Sobeck & Agius, 2007), relying on various conceptual models of capacity to guide the development of interventions and measurement of effect. The multidimensionality of the various models
reflects the range of resources that may be key to an organization’s effectiveness.
Despite generally common dimensions, however, there is consensus that the elements
within each dimension are context-specific (Christensen & Gazley, 2008; Eisinger,
2002; Frederickson & London, 2000; Germann & Wilson, 2004; Letts, Ryan, &
Grossman, 1999; Raymond, 2010; Sowa, Selden, & Sandfort, 2004). As Wing (2004)
noted, “Whatever capacity building might be, it is not going to be the same across such
a diversity of kinds of [nonprofit] organizations” (p. 154). What is critical in one context,
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Doherty et al.
such as food banks (Eisinger, 2002), may not be as relevant in other contexts, such as
arts and culture (Bendle & Patterson, 2009) or health organizations (Nowell &
Harrison, 2011). Therefore, it is important to understand the particular nature of capacity in a given type of organization, such as grassroots membership associations and
sport clubs specifically, before efforts can begin to address building that capacity.
The purpose of this study was to develop a framework of organizational capacity in
community sport clubs. The investigation draws on Hall et al.’s (2003) model of
capacity in the nonprofit sector as a foundation for identifying the critical elements
within multiple dimensions; a model that appears to be relevant to the focal context
(cf. Misener & Doherty, 2009; Sharpe, 2006; Wicker & Breuer, 2011). Organization
theorists and researchers have given minimal attention to grassroots membership associations, and theory development is needed (Hoggett & Bishop, 1986; Smith, 2009;
Toepler, 2003). Indeed, understanding the mechanisms by which these organizations
are able to fulfill their mandates is, according to Smith (2009), a pressing topic for
research. Several authors have echoed this call with regard to research on sport clubs
(Adams, 2007; Harris, Mori, & Collins, 2009; Kirk & MacPhail, 2003; Reid, 2012).
The current study addresses this need through an inductive investigation of the critical
elements of sport club capacity.
Conceptual Background
Dimensions of Capacity in Nonprofit Organizations
There are an ever-increasing number of multidimensional models of organizational
capacity in the nonprofit sector. Broad models, purportedly representing a wide range
of types of organizations, have been forwarded by Glickman and Servon (1998);
McKinsey & Company (2001); Lusthaus, Adrien, Anderson, Carden, and Plinio
Montalvan (2002); Connolly and York (2003); Hall et al. (2003); and Sowa et al.
(2004). Some authors have used these models directly or in an adapted format (Casey,
Payne, & Eime, 2009; Horton et al., 2003; Marguerite Casey Foundation, n.d.). Others
have put forth their own model of capacity dimensions they feel are most germane to
the particular context of study (Eisinger, 2002; Frederickson & London, 2000;
Germann & Wilson, 2004; Nu’Man, King, Bhalakia, & Criss, 2007; Sobeck & Agius,
2007). Nonetheless, the extant capacity models have several dimensions in common,
namely, infrastructure and operations; leadership, vision, and strategy; human, financial, and other core resources; and networks and external relationships.
The continued reconfiguration of broad capacity models is reflective of the diversity of organizational types that comprise the nonprofit sector and suggests that context-specific frameworks may be more pertinent. Indeed, Eisinger (2002) identified
three dimensions from the literature deemed to be most relevant to examine organizational capacity in food banks, namely, human resources, institutionalization, and networks. He measured what he determined to be particularly critical elements of those
dimensions; specifically, number of staff and staff to volunteer ratio, extent of organization policies and procedures, regular meetings, and strategic planning, and willingness
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Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly XX(X)
to seek external help. In another study, Germann and Wilson (2004) derived the critical
elements of four dimensions of capacity of regional health authorities from interviews
with frontline workers and managers. Organizational values, structure and processes,
resources, and internal working relationships were identified from the data as factors
that contribute to “empowered and autonomous front-line workers” that influence
community development practice (Germann & Wilson, 2004, p. 292). These studies
and others (e.g., Frederickson & London, 2000), and the evolution of the nonprofit
organizational capacity literature in general, suggest that capacity is context-specific
and warrants continued examination in different settings.
Hall et al.’s (2003) broad framework was used as a foundation for the current study
as its dimensions—human resources, finance, infrastructure, planning and development, and external relationships and networks—align with several of the distinguishing features of grassroots membership associations; specifically, the critical reliance
on human resources in the form of volunteers, relatively fewer economic resources, a
more informal structure, a focus on member benefit goals and activities that address
those goals, and relatively fewer external linkages (Smith, 2000). The Hall et al.
framework was conceptualized from the literature on human (and particularly intellectual), financial, and structural capital, as key resources that an organization may be
able to deploy to achieve its objectives. Human resources refer to the paid staff and
volunteers, their competencies, knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. Finance refers to
revenues, expenses, assets, and liabilities of an organization. Infrastructure includes
aspects related to internal structure and day-to-day operations, while planning and
development refers to developing and drawing on strategic and program plans.
External relationships refer to connections with, for example, funders, partners, government, media, and the public. Each of the capacity dimensions is expected to have
varying influence on the ability of an organization to fulfill its mission and achieve its
objectives (Hall et al., 2003).
Dimensions of Capacity in Community Sport
Most research on community sport clubs has focused on a single dimension of capacity in any given study, with human resources and external relationships dominating the
literature (see Misener & Doherty, 2009). A few investigations have considered multiple dimensions within a single study, relying on a list of factors investigators felt
were most pertinent to the community sport context (Allison, 2001; Reid Howie
Associates, 2006), or dimensions derived from a theoretical framework of organizational capacity (Gumulka, Barr, Lasby, & Brownlee, 2005; Misener & Doherty, 2009;
Sharpe, 2006; Wicker & Breuer, 2011). Allison’s (2001) and Reid Howie Associates’
(2006) large-scale government-commissioned surveys of key issues in sport clubs in
Scotland focused on human resources, finances, facilities, structure, and links with
other organizations. Critical challenges to club development were formalization, facilities, and limited and unequal partnerships, particularly as alternate sources of funding
(Allison, 2001; Reid Howie Associates, 2006).
Gumulka et al. (2005) focused on Hall et al.’s (2003) human resources and finances
dimensions to describe the critical aspects of sport club capacity. They used data drawn
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Doherty et al.
from a survey of Canadian nonprofit voluntary organizations in general. Critical factors were generating external revenue, recruiting and retaining the type of volunteers
needed, and the dedication demonstrated by club volunteers focused on member needs
(Gumulka et al., 2005). Drawing on data from a large-scale survey of sport clubs in
Germany, Wicker and Breuer (2011) reported key “problems” experienced by those
clubs. Scarcity of volunteers, access to sport facilities, and a growing imbalance of
expenses to revenues were identified as critical factors in club capacity. However,
Wicker and Breuer acknowledged that not all, or even the most relevant, sport club
capacity elements were necessarily considered in their study.
Sharpe (2006) considered financial, human, and structural dimensions of capacity
to describe the particular aspects of each that affect the quality of participants’ experience in one grassroots sport organization. She concluded that a positive experience
was compromised by a shortage of human capital, in terms of both volunteers and their
skills and knowledge. Social capital inherent in structured relationships was a valuable
and abundant resource within the organization. Sharpe urged further empirical attention to the role of human capital in grassroots organizations but, consistent with the
multidimensional capacity perspective, noted that it should not be considered in isolation from other forms of capital. Misener and Doherty (2009) also based their case
study of one community sport club on Hall et al.’s (2003) multidimensional model,
uncovering what were perceived to be the critical elements within all five dimensions
of capacity in that club. Critical human resources factors included a sufficient number
of volunteers with positive attitudes, knowledge and skills, and a sense of trust and
shared values. Financial factors included adequate and stable revenues, manageable
expenses, and financial management. Frequent and open communication, a positive
organizational culture, club formalization, and adequate facilities were identified as
critical aspects of infrastructure. Strategic planning was acknowledged as critical to
club goal achievement, although planning to date had been reactionary and informal.
Finally, critical external relationship factors included connections with a variety of
sport and nonsport partners and effective relationship management (Misener &
Doherty, 2009). The current study builds on these efforts to date, examining the range
of capacity dimensions outlined by Hall et al. with a broad sample of clubs.
Fifty-one presidents, or their representatives, of community sport clubs participated in
1 of 13 focus groups in six communities across the province of Ontario. A total of 180
clubs representing a wide variety of team and individual, summer and winter sports
were contacted by email from information available in the public domain (World Wide
Web) and invited to participate in the study. A follow-up was conducted to determine
interest and availability for a focus group session. Participants represented 23 different
sports (13 team sports, 10 individual sports; 11 summer sports and 12 winter sports).
Their clubs had been in existence for an average of 31 years (SD = 2.82), ranging from
5 to 106 years (Mdn = 30), with an average of 506 members, ranging from 22 to 4,800
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Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly XX(X)
(Mdn = 280). Less than half of the clubs (n = 23; 45%) had paid staff and only 12
(23.5%) of those had a paid administrator with the remainder in paid coaching, officiating, or food and beverage staff roles.
Focus Group Interview Guide and Procedure
Focus group interviews were used as they provide an environment for the discussion of
phenomena that can elicit rich data as participants consider their own perspective in
relation to others (Krueger & Casey, 2009). A semistructured interview guide was
developed to tap into perceived strengths and challenges within each dimension of
capacity, as indicators of key assets and resources. Club presidents were asked to reflect
on the critical strengths or “best things” and critical challenges or “worst things” about
a given dimension with respect to their club being able to achieve its goals, with one
dimension discussed at a time. The focus group moderator, who was one of the investigators, encouraged all participants to contribute to the discussion and to elaborate on
their comments. The focus group design enabled thoughtful reflection and engaging
discussion among sport club presidents about capacity issues in their club. Participants
would often reflect on someone else’s description when recounting about their own
club (e.g., “We’re in a little different situation than [other club in the group] . . . ”
(FG12/2); “I think [other participant] hit it on the head. We’re in the same set up . . . ”
(FG6/4)). The focus group interaction appeared to enhance the participants’ ability to
provide a rich description. The intent was not to achieve consensus within the group but
to allow for interaction that could generate richer discussion. The moderator provided
an oral summary at the end of each focus group, which enabled the group members to
verify that their perspective had been included and the summary was accurate and complete (cf. Siegenthaler & Vaughan, 1998). Focus groups comprised three to six participants from different sports and clubs of different sizes (see below). The sessions lasted
90 min to 2 hr and were audio recorded. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and
transcripts were stored in a secure venue, as per research ethics requirements of the first
author’s institution. Audiotapes were destroyed after transcription.
Data Analysis
A multistep approach was undertaken to identify patterns in the data across the full
sample (Krueger & Casey, 2009). First, the transcripts were reviewed independently
by the investigators for a general sense of the data. Next, the investigators reread the
transcripts, scrutinizing individual phrases to create an emergent coding scheme that
represented themes consistently identified by club presidents within each capacity
dimension. Themes representing critical elements of capacity were evidenced by
examples of strengths and/or challenges. Transcripts were then coded independently
and discussions held to resolve any discrepancies between the investigators’ coding, to
verify code descriptors, and to collapse any codes that were deemed too similar. The
data were also coded by club membership size to further consider any variation in the
prominence of the capacity elements according to the number of members served. Nichols,
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Doherty et al.
Table 1. Framework of Critical Elements of the Dimensions of Community Sport Club
Capacity dimension
Critical elements
Human resources
Planning and …
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