Establish Assessment Purpose and Common Definitions


What are your learning goals?  |  What capacity building activities do you conduct?

The first two tasks needed to assess your agency’s capacity building activities: 

  • Determine the purpose and need for such an assessment and the final results you are hoping to achieve through the review; and
  • Clarify your agency’s purpose for and definition of capacity building.

​Depending on your agency, it may also be necessary to obtain approval or buy-in from your executive leadership or authorizers. Completing the two items above will help gain that approval and support.

Once you've done all that, you can move on to... 

Determine the purpose and need for a capacity building assessment

The assessment will be more successful if the learning purpose, primary audience and use of the resulting information have been clearly defined before the assessment begins. Initial questions to consider before beginning your capacity building assessment are provided in Worksheet #1. Your responses to these questions will help guide your assessment process.

Convene a small group of people closely involved with your capacity building services to discuss the questions on Worksheet #1. They should include a mix of managers and front-line staff providing capacity building to your grantees and contractors.

Provide time for people to complete the worksheet individually ahead of time and during the group meeting. ​Listen carefully to everyone’s responses including any differences of opinions and overlapping ideas. Document the discussion in writing and confirm with everyone the final agreement on the assessment’s purpose and intended use. The answers to these questions can help an agency tell the story of the full range of services they provide, and may be the basis of requesting additional funding to improve or expand capacity building services.

Define your agency's capacity building purpose and activities

It is essential for staff from all levels of your organization to collectively define your current capacity building purpose(s) and specific activities. This will ensure common definitions are established and documented in writing at the beginning of this assessment process, which will directly connect to the assessment methods and specific questions and response options. This process may also illuminate different perspectives among individuals and departments within your agency. It is essential that your team come to consensus on a shared definition of your capacity building and its purpose.

Each staff member involved in this discussion should complete Worksheet #2 on their own for their specific departments or divisions and bring their responses to a facilitated discussion with the goal of coming to consensus around the definition of capacity building for your agency as a whole.​​


Step Two

Evaluate the impact of your capacity building​

Step Three

Calculate resources spent on capacity building​

Step Four

Share and use ​your assessment results


Tip #2