In a commercial marketplace, prices paid for goods are generally accepted as the signal of whether or not value is being created. Imperfect though this signal is, it is a much clearer indication than can be found in the social economy. In the social sector, the prices that beneficiaries pay (if any) are not usually a full reflection of the actual value being provided. In the absence of prices, a great deal of engineering is required to ensure that value is created, recognized, and supported. This is the role capacity builders play in the social sector; yet, they are often its unsung heroes.
Capacity builders seek to increase the impact of individual nonprofit organizations and the social sector as a whole by performing roles as promoters, service providers, industry watchers, and grantmakers. They make efforts to incorporate new business models, technology, and information to improve the impact of social interventions. Recent trends suggest a focus on increasing the impact of these capacity builders themselves.