What is the Core Capacity Assessment Tool?
Knowing how to build capacity relies on an accurate and comprehensive assessment of your organization’s strengths and challenges. The Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) is an online, survey-based tool designed to collect information from key decision-makers in your organization and create prioritized recommendations for building organizational capacity. Used by nonprofits more than 5,000 times, the CCAT is a leading assessment tool for measuring a nonprofit’s effectiveness.
When paired with an interpretation session led by skilled TCC Group consultants, the CCAT becomes a powerful means of turning assessment into action. CCAT interpretation sessions include a facilitated conversation to discuss and analyze your CCAT results, deepen your understanding of the CCAT findings, prioritize the most urgent needs, and develop a personalized action plan to enhance effectiveness throughout your organization.
How Do Organizations Use the CCAT?
Built on decades of experience and research in capacity building, the Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) measures a nonprofit’s effectiveness in relation to four core capacities – leadership, adaptability, management, and technical capacity – as well as organizational culture. The CCAT is intended to help a nonprofit organization determine its strengths and opportunities for improvement within each of these key components. Foundations, corporate funders, and management support organizations (MSOs) may purchase the CCAT as a service for their grantees, or as a tool for determining their long-term capacity-building needs. The CCAT is not, however, used by funders as a screening tool to determine which organizations to support.
Engaging and Planning
The CCAT comprises 146 questions and takes 30-45 minutes to complete. The survey is completed by all key senior leaders (including one to two board members) of an organization. The assessment culminates with a final report that provides nonprofits with an analysis of strengths and challenges in the core capacities and sub-capacities, as well as prioritized and detailed suggestions and resources for building organizational capacity and increasing organizational effectiveness. The CCAT report can be used in a variety of ways as an engagement and planning tool:
Turning Assessment into Action
Once your nonprofit has assessed its capacity, how can your leadership move from assessment to action? At TCC Group, we believe that data alone does not help a nonprofit build its capacity. The CCAT’s strength is amplified by an interpretation session, where a neutral third-party facilitator can help contextualize the CCAT report and explore what it means to each organization.
CCAT interpretation sessions include a facilitated conversation with all who have taken the CCAT, led by a skilled TCC consultant. During this conversation, your survey results are analyzed, interpreted, and discussed with your organization’s leadership so that you may gain valuable insight into the needs of your organization across key capacity metrics.
Interpretation sessions can be provided as one-on-one sessions with the leadership of a nonprofit, or can be conducted with groups of nonprofits or grantee cohorts that exhibit similar levels of assessed capacity.
To learn more about the interpretation options and pricings, visit the Interpretation page.
What Makes the CCAT Unique?
The CCAT is a unique type of capacity assessment tool that forms an integral part of the capacity building services offered by TCC Group. Our core capacity assessment model was developed over decades of research and evaluation of capacity building initiatives in the non-profit sector. In addition to your organization’s capacity scores, the CCAT determines your organization’s lifecycle stage, a growth stage identifier that helps inform your capacity building recommendations and insure continued organizational growth. As one of the leading capacity assessment tools, the CCAT has been taken over 6,000 times by nonprofits, so you can compare your scores and benchmark effectiveness across peer organizations in the sector.
The Core Capacity Assessment Model
Based on decades of research and many large-scale evaluations of capacity-building initiatives conducted around the country, the TCC Group has identified four core capacities that all organizations need to be effective:
The core capacity assessment model also assesses a measure of organizational culture, since the unique history, values, and beliefs of each organization have a significant impact on each of the above core capacities.
The CCAT is a statistically validated tool that comprehensively applies this model to assess your organization’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities.
Determine Your Lifecycle Stage
Nonprofit organizations, like people, experience a lifecycle of progressive stages and developmental milestones. Within the Core Capacity Model, organizations receive a lifecycle stage placement, which contextualizes its capacity building needs and priorities, and guides the development of a customized capacity building plan designed to continue moving an organization through this cycle. Continued movement through lifecycle stages allows an organization to maximize effectiveness and avoid stagnation or decline. TCC Group labels the growth stages according to three milestones of organizational development: Core Program Development, Infrastructure Development, and Impact Expansion.
Each organization that takes the CCAT receives a lifecycle stage placement. TCC Group sees an organization’s lifecycle as a cumulative process; each successive stage requires growth in the prior stages. Whether you are moving from Core Program Development to Infrastructure Development or circling back from Impact Expansion to Core Program Development, moving to the next lifecycle stage requires building certain capacities in each stage. For example, an organization in Infrastructure Development may need to build its management and adaptive capacities in order to move to Impact Expansion. The CCAT final report identifies these precise capacities and makes recommendations to move each organization to the next lifecycle stage.
Benchmarking Effectiveness within the Nonprofit Landscape
A uniquely valuable component of the CCAT process is the option to benchmark your CCAT scores alongside peer organizations. All participating organizations are invited to include background information on characteristics of their organization, such as budget size, sector, and programing. This information is entirely optional and it does not factor into an organization’s capacity assessment.
Organizations that have filled out background information have the option to download their CCAT final report with comparison information using the wealth of data TCC Group has collected from the thousands of organizations who have taken the CCAT. This comparison report allows a nonprofit to benchmark its effectiveness across organizations of similar budget size, service sector, and/or type of programming, providing valuable insight into where an organization fits within the landscape of the sector and its peer organizations.
Capacity Building Services
The CCAT forms an integral part of the capacity building services offered by TCC Group. In addition to the CCAT, TCC Group offers specialized capacity assessment and capacity building services to funders, nonprofits, and cohorts of organizations. These specialized services are ideal for organizations looking for a deeper dive into capacity building. For more information and to determine which services are best suited for your organization, please visit Capacity Building Services or download this handout.
How Do I Purchase the CCAT?
Individual nonprofits, funders, and management support organizations can purchase CCAT surveys and interpretation sessions for up to 9 organizations through this website. Please click on the "Purchase CCAT" button on the top left of this page to begin the checkout process.
If you are interested in purchasing the CCAT for 10 or more organizations, or if you would like to discuss creating a tailored program of capacity building services for your organization, please email our Help Desk at [email protected].
Purchasing Individual CCATs
Purchase of one CCAT includes a final report based on responses from an unlimited number of respondents within a single organization. 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.
This option is ideal for nonprofit organizations who will be receiving CCAT interpretation services from certified CCAT facilitators, or for certified facilitators to purchase on behalf of nonprofits.
Purchasing CCAT Interpretation Sessions
CCAT interpretation sessions, led by a skilled TCC Group consultant, analyze and contextualize results, and help organizations prioritize needs and create a targeted capacity building plan. Nonprofits or funders who schedule a CCAT interpretation session will receive access to the CCAT survey free-of-charge, which includes the CCAT final report. Interpretation Sessions are offered in both 60-minute and 90-minute sessions, depending on your organization’s goals.
This option is ideal for nonprofit organizations that are looking to move beyond assessing capacity to create an action plan for building core capacities.
For details and pricing, visit the Interpretation page.
Purchasing CCATs for Grantee Cohorts
Funders, foundations, MSOs, and groups of nonprofits can purchase the CCAT and interpretation sessions for cohorts of organizations. In addition to offering the CCAT assessment and interpretation sessions for grantees or partner agencies, TCC Group offers a variety of cohort-level services to help funders and foundations better understand the capacity building needs of their grantees.
If you are interested in exploring what capacity building services are right for your cohort of nonprofits, please contact the CCAT Help Desk at [email protected] We are happy to work with you to build a suite of CCAT services that best meets your organization’s needs and resources.