CSO Capacity Enhancement Tool (CET)

The organizational capacity enhancement tool was created for the Eurasia Partnership Foundation within the scope of the “CSO DePo: CSO Development Program.” The “CSO DePo: CSO Development Program” fosters sustainable civil society development through strengthening the capacity of CSOs as critical actors to advance and oversee reform, improve services and contribute to the development of more effective governance in the economic, democratic, and social spheres.

What is the Organizational capacity enhancement tool?

The aim of the Tool is to help civil society organizations measure and develop their organizational capacities.

The organizational capacity enhancement process is planned and implemented according to the needs and situation. It includes the following four steps:

  1. Exploring the needs and objectives for organizational development
  2. Defining the spheres of the organization’s capacities
  3. Preparing and implementing the evaluation
  4. Planning the organizational development process or reviewing that plan.

When clarifying the objectives for development, the organization should acknowledge the usefulness of an evaluation of its capacities. This ensures the effectiveness of the evaluation and the consistent implementation of the proposed steps. Otherwise, the process has no real value. This should be taken into consideration especially when the organizational capacity evaluation is being implemented at the requirement of an external client (donor).

CSO directors, along with their staff, board members and invited experts, can use the tool to explore the strong sides of the organizations and/or the areas in which it needs improvement, to measure the changes in the organization’s capacities that have occurred over time as well as to reveal and discuss different viewpoints regarding the existing and required capacities in the organization.

The tool consists of two parts and allows the following:

  1. Verifying the availability and application of the necessary documents, procedures and policies, and
  2. Evaluating the basic elements of the organization’s capacities and their perception by the members of the organization.

A development specialist does this by selecting the answer to each question about the organization that best describes the given organization’s current status or the implementation of the relevant function.

Structure of the tool

In the first stage of the evaluation, the main documents and implemented policies of the organization are inspected. Then, an evaluation is conducted of the perception of the organization’s functions. The evaluation tool consists of the following six main parts:

  1. Governance
  2. Management and administration
  3. Human Resources
  4. Financial governance
  5. Communication and public relations
  6. Delivery of programs and services

CSOs consider each of the six functional areas according to the following four levels of organizational development:

  1. Clear need for capacity enhancement
  2. Basic capacity level
  3. Middle capacity level
  4. High capacity level

The final or fourth level is mentioned in order to create the need for improvement towards it, but it will not be easy to match its requirements.

Let us now look at the six areas of the evaluation tool.

  1. Governance

Governance and strategy describe how the organization’s mission, areas of work and programs are planned and validated, and how roles are distributed among the staff, management and board members. The organization’s governance system documents the organization’s structure and the main governance principles. Governance structures allow organizations to decide their overarching objectives and programs to be implemented, and to define the necessary strategic priorities in order to realize the organization’s mission and the budget necessary to get to those objectives.

  1. Management and administration

This section evaluates the quality and condition of the organization’s management and administration systems, the prospects for the development and implementation of the governance capacities, as well as the availability of policies and procedures, and the knowledge of staff in this area.

  1. Human resources (talent management)

The objective of evaluation in this area is to determine the organization’s capacity to retain, recruit and train motivated and talented staff, to govern the corresponding functions and use employees’ time productively to implement quality programs.

  1. Financial governance

This area consists of subsections for financial systems, financial policies and procedures, budget planning and monitoring, cost sharing, financial reporting, audit and financial stability.

  1. Communication and public relations

Developing relationships with the outside world—mass media, donors, partners and other target groups—is one of the most important functions of an organization. By consistently using the right communication methods, choosing correct and understandable wording, organizations can meet their marketing objectives for the services they deliver and their overall financial sustainability. The main components of this functional area are the communication policy and public relations strategy. It is important for this area to explore how the organization sees its reputation among its external audiences, particularly in communication with donors and the media, its members (if applicable) and its stakeholders, or the customers using its services.

  1. Delivery of programs and services

Non-profits usually see “products” and “services” as “programs,” such that the activities in this area are directed at strengthening the organization’s capacities to deliver quality programs to external customers (communities, donors, members and/or partners). One of the important factors in evaluating the quality of product and service delivery is the availability of quality criteria and the practice of monitoring and evaluation. Another important component of this area is the perception of the whole staff on transparency and accountability, which are necessary for effective program governance.

  • And if you are interested to invite EPF consultants to conduct the consultancy with your organization and prepare a comprehensive report on organizational development of your CSO, please send us the attached form (in Armenian).