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A Guide to Organizational Capacity Assessment Tools


There are dozens of organizational capacity assessment tools. How do you determine which one is right for your organization?

We partnered with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Effective Philanthropy Group to scan the landscape of organizational capacity assessment tools and gather insights from organizational capacity professionals about the best ways to use them. A few things we learned:

Adaptation is the norm. 

No one tool is perfect, and adaptation helps ensure that people completing the tool understand its terminology and that the questions and structure account for the organization’s unique context.

It’s important to use the right tool for the job. 

Right-sizing a tool’s level of detail and time requirements helps ensure that it delivers useful information and sustained enthusiasm from staff and board throughout the assessment process.

The process is more important than the tool. 

An organizational assessment tool provides a framework for conversations about an organization’s trajectory and will reveals areas of disagreement and consensus that affect decisions.

Skilled facilitation maximizes process management and learning.

A third-party facilitator, such as a consultant, can serve as a neutral sounding board for making decision and overcoming challenges that may surface from the tool and help overburdened staff move from assessment to action.

Read our Guide for more on these lessons learned, and download the database of organizational capacity assessments here.