The Easiest Way to Conduct an Organizational Assessment for Your NGO

This article is the second in my CSO Financial Sustainability Series. Here is the link to the first in the series which I titled:  Can Your NGO Survive and operate without Grant Money?

Organizational Capacity Assessment or OCA for short. I shared one tool, developed by USAID that you can use to conduct a capacity assessment of your organization. If you haven’t yet read it, you need to click here to read it now, before coming here to continue.



How to Conduct an Organizational Capacity Assessment (OCA)

When you’re ready to take your NGO to the next level,  it is important to conduct an assessment of the current performance of the organization.  You could chose to have those assessments planned, systematic and explicit- which is what experts actually recommend,  or they could be unplanned and implicit.

Conducting an OCA will help you find the strengths and weaknesses of the organizations, which will help you not just with financial sustainability, but the overall impact you’re making.

So what’s the easiest way to conduct an Organizational Capacity Assessment?
Use one of the many incredible OCA tools available for free.

Here’s a list of some of the best ones out there courtesy of Carter McNamara, of Authenticity Consulting, LLC.


  1. McKinsey Capacity Assessment Grid
    Helps nonprofits assess their operational capacity and identify strengths and areas for improvement.
  2. Minnesota Council of Nonprofits “Principles and Practices”
    This is widely recognize, comprehensive, principles-based assessment tool that suggests principles for effectiveness in many of the major functions in nonprofits.
  3. Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations “Standards of Excellence”
    This is a widely recognized, principles-based assessment tool that suggests principles for effectiveness in many of the major functions in nonprofits.

  4. This is an online questionnaire that was modified from the United Way tool.
  5. Assessment for Start-Up Organizations
    The Tool for Assessing Startup Organizations is designed for use by funders assessing a grant application from a startup nonprofit.
  6. Self-Assessment Tool for Nonprofit Organizations
    Addresses most common functions in nonprofits and indicates extent of achievement in each.

As I’ve advised in times past, if your organization can afford it, it is best to hire the services of an external consultant to take you people through the process.  I make this recommendation because that person is not a part of your organization, they will be more objective than any member of the organizations will ever be.

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