Core Capacity Assessment Tool

Mission is the bottom-line for the nonprofit sector. The fundamental goal of building the organizational capacity of nonprofit organizations is to, in the end, strengthen their ability to realize that mission, whether it is to protect the vulnerable, enrich our communities, provide education and resources, respond to critical events and issues, or sustain our environment.

In order to achieve its mission, a nonprofit needs to develop a strong, effective and efficient organization. But what do strong organizations look like?

The Core Capacity Assessment Tool:

  • Answers the question: “Where are we?” It provides a snapshot of the organization’s strengths and weaknesses at once
  • Is completed independently by multiple leaders of an organization.
  • Uses randomized questions, a rating system, and an external analysis. Consequently, it provides a more objective picture of an organization’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Includes a report that helps organizations prioritize which areas to work on first.
  • Allows an organization to measure its progress over time and to compare itself to other organizations of similar size and focus.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who should use it?
The CCAT was created to assess nonprofit organizations. Foundations, corporate funders, and management support organizations (MSOs) may purchase access to the CCAT as a service for their grantees or as a tool for determining the need for long-term capacity-building services. However, the CCAT is not intended to be used by funders as a “screening tool” to determine which organizations to support.

What does the CCAT assess and analyze?
The CCAT assesses and allows an organization to analyze its Four Core Capacities, organizational culture, and where it is in terms of its organizational lifecycle. It provides users with a report analyzing their strengths and providing recommendations for future growth and change within each capacity area (Leadership, Adaptive, Management and Technical), including sub-categories that provide deeper insight into each core capacity. The lifecycle score can be used to provide a status report in terms of accomplishments to date and to predict hurdles in an organization’s future. The lifecycle score can also serve as a benchmark to confirm that a nonprofit is continuing to grow successfully.

Who takes it?
The CCAT is generally taken by all senior staff and at least two to three board members possessing an intimate knowledge of the organization.

How do I take it?
The CCAT is administered electronically and consists of 146 multiple-choice questions covering a range of operational topics. Answers are then analyzed to determine the organization’s capacity to achieve its mission.

How much time is needed to take the survey?
It takes about 45 minutes to complete the survey.

How do I get started?
The organization must identify a key contact person who will enter the list of names and e-mail addresses for all the individuals taking the CCAT and enter background information about the organization into the survey.

How do the participants log in to take the survey?
Once the background information is provide, the individuals taking the survey will receive an e-mail notice providing them with a password. Using the assigned password, participants log into TCC Group’s website – at their convenience – and take the survey.

When do organizations get the results?
As soon as everyone participating has taken the survey, results are immediately available to the key contact person.

What is in the report?
Your CCAT Report provides a snapshot of your organization’s strengths and challenges based on first-hand experience and anonymous answers. It includes information on interpreting the results, as well as graphic depictions of your scores for each capacity area, basic comparative data with organizations nationwide, and recommendations of activities that can strengthen each specific core capacity. The CCAT report also includes an organizational life cycle score and a set of computer generated, prioritized capacity-building recommendations based on the organization’s life cycle stage. To see an example of the CCAT final report, click here, or view a sample page.

How can I use the CCAT Report?
The CCAT Report can be used as a:

  • Starting point for conversations
  • Suggested checklist for changes
  • Barometer for comparison to similar organizations
  • Way to track organizational growth and development
  • Method for involving board members in discussing organizational capacities

How do organizations decipher the results?
It is recommended that organizational leaders take part in a group or individualized session to prepare for taking the survey and discuss best strategies for using the results going forward. NHCN provides group sessions throughout the year or can arrange for a trained consultant to visit your individual board room to help you interpret the results and explore ways to utilize the information to support your organization’s continued growth and success.

How do I prepare my organization to take the survey?
It is recommended that organization leaders take part in either the group orientation sessions or individualized sessions offered by NHCN to learn about the survey, the process and the four core capacity model.

What is the cost to take the CCAT?
The price of the CCAT is $350 per organization. The purchase includes a report based on responses from an unlimited number of respondents within a single organization and free telephone technical support for using the tool. The CCAT report includes information on interpreting the results, as well as scores for each capacity area, and recommendations for building your organizational capacity. It also classifies the organization into a particular lifecycle stage and generates a capacity-building plan with prioritized recommendations to assist your organization in moving forward. Organizations may also download their report with a comparison to organizations of similar budget size, service sector, and / or type of programming.

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