Listed below are several strategies for assessing an organization. Using the strategies below in a collaborative effort with the beneficiary organization will yield the most accurate results, collect both quantitative and qualitative data, identify strengths of an organization in addition to organizational gaps, and build trust and accountability between the TA provider and beneficiary organization.
Organizational Capacity Assessment. An assessment of the organization’s capacity is the most basic element of an organizational assessment. This is often completed as a self-assessment by one or more person(s) within the beneficiary organization, including the executive director, program director, development director, and board chair. This tool will help the TA provider identify baseline performance of the beneficiary organization and provide initial data needed to measure progress through the TA engagement. There are several self-assessments that exist and are ready for use, or you can create your own based on the TA services you are able to provide. See the interactivity above for a sample self-assessment.
Document Review. The TA provider can ask the beneficiary organization to make a host of documents available for review, allowing the TA provider to do their own capacity review and learn about the systems and processes in place within the beneficiary organization.
Site Visit. By visiting the site, the TA provider can see the administrative offices of the beneficiary organization, the program(s) and clients of the organization, and meet with key staff members of the organization. This is a great opportunity to have some informal conversations about the daily operations of the organization and make observations about organizational capacity.
Assessment Interview. If the beneficiary organization lacks organizational awareness, the assessment can be skewed. Capacity builders often refer to this as “you don’t know what you don’t know.” To address organizational awareness issues, the TA provider can conduct a structured assessment interview to assist in determining the current level of organizational capacity.
Leadership Assessment. Because the success of the TA engagement is so dependent on the ability, skills, and attitude of the organization’s leadership, a TA provider should understand how to best support and coach the applicable individuals. This can be done through a formal assessment, a quick checklist of questions, or informal assessment.
The provision of TA is about meeting an organization “where it is.” With this, the TA provider must create an assessment process that accounts for factors such as the organization’s size, culture, and leadership. If you are working with an emerging organization that has little in place to assess, start by asking some critical defining questions about who they are, what they want to do, and what they want to become.
If the TA engagement will continue for a long period of time, address several issues, or demand intensive amounts of time from organizational leadership or the TA provider, it is important to end the analysis phase and launch the next phase with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and/or a work plan identifying each TA action, method of delivery, and person responsible. There is more information about MOUs and work plans in the next chapter on implementation.
Download this sample list of documents that you can use as a tool when conducting an organizational assessment.
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