The role of communication, building relationships, and adaptability in non-profit organisational capacity for health promotion

Louise A. Van Herwerden*, Dianne P. Reidlinger, Claire Palermo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
114 Downloads (Pure)


While the non-profit sector has an integral role in health promotion, it is unclear whether these organisations have the capacity for health promotion activities. This study aims to explore and describe capacity changes of a non-profit organisation during a 3-year community-based nutrition intervention. The non-profit organisation, with 3800 members throughout the state of Queensland, Australia, implemented a 3-year food literacy community-based intervention. A team of qualified nutritionists delivered the program in partnership with community-based volunteers. A separate aim of the intervention was to build capacity of the non-profit organisation for health promotion. A qualitative study was undertaken, using a social constructivist approach to explore organisational capacity changes longitudinally. All relevant participants including non-profit executive managers and nutritionists were included in the study (100% response rate). Data collection included semi-structured interviews (n = 17) at multiple intervention time points and document analysis of program newsletters (n = 21). Interview transcripts and documents were analysed separately using thematic and content analysis. Codes and categories between the two data sources were then compared and contrasted to build themes. Organisational capacity was predominantly influenced by four themes; 'communicating', 'changing relationships', 'limited organisational learning' and 'adaptability and resistance to change'. Developing non-profit organisational health promotion capacity appears to require focusing on fostering communication processes and building positive relationships over time. Capacity changes of the non-profit organisation were not linear, fluctuating across various levels over time. Assessing non-profit organisational capacity to implement community interventions by describing adaptive capacity, may help researchers focus on the processes that influence capacity development.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdaac074
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Promotion International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


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