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Foundation Core Capacity Assessment Tool (FCCAT)

Welcome to the Foundation Core Capacity Assessment Tool (FCCAT) a statistically-validated tool to strengthen the philanthropic sector by helping foundations assess their institutional capacity strengths and challenges.

The FCCAT measures capacities critical to a wide variety of foundations. The tool has been carefully crafted to draw upon the field’s current understanding of the capacities foundations need to advance their mission, and is further informed by TCC Group’s own experience in working with a diversity of foundations on strategy and operations, as well as in evaluating capacity-building initiatives foundations have developed for their grantees. FCCAT also builds on learnings from the Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT), which has helped over 5000 nonprofits learn about their organizational capacity and take action.

The FCCAT measures:

Leadership Capacity: the ability of all foundation leaders to create and sustain foundation vision, to innovate, and to provide direction in order to advance organizational mission;

Adaptive Capacity: the ability of a foundation to monitor, assess, respond to and create internal and external changes;

Management Capacity: the ability of a foundation to ensure the effective and efficient use of organizational resources; and

Technical Capacity: the ability of a foundation to implement key organizational and programmatic functions.

Organizational Culture Capacity: the values, assumptions, and behavioral norms that guide how a foundation carries out its work.

We are happy to assist you in determining whether the FCCAT would be of use to your foundation.  The information below provides answers to questions commonly posed by foundation participants.  Please email FCCAT@tccgrp.com if you have additional questions.

Contact Us

Is your foundation team interested in taking the FCCAT and receiving a customized report? Enter your contact information below and TCC staff will be in touch to schedule an informational phone call. 

Learn More

Listen to our orientation webinar below, view our presentation, review a sample report, check out our latest findings from the FCCAT aggregate report, or read the FAQs to learn more about the FCCAT and the registration process.

Foundation Capacity Findings

For many years, the social sector has paid substantial attention to the issue of nonprofit effectiveness. By contrast, comparatively little attention has been paid to the capacities that foundations themselves need to achieve impact. What capacities are essential to advancing a foundation’s own mission? How do these elements compare to the capacities their grantee partners need?

We believe that foundation capacity – like nonprofit capacity more broadly – is essential to impact. In developing the FCCAT and sharing aggregate findings in the report below - "Foundations Need Capacity, Too: Initial Findings from the Fondation Core Capacity Assessment Tool" - our core purpose is to elevate attention to this important issue.

FCCAT FAQ

What is the history behind the FCCAT?

For many years, the social sector has witnessed an increase in the attention paid to nonprofit and grantee capacity, but comparatively little formal and field-wide examination of the kinds of institutional capacity needed by foundations to deliver on their missions.  There have been important efforts, such as getting the crucial insights of grantees related to foundation performance, but these efforts have stopped short of a comprehensive assessment of foundation capacity. With this in mind, in recent years TCC Group has partnered with foundations to start a conversation around what it means as a foundation to have the capacity to achieve their mission, including their capacity for grantmaking and non-grantmaking activities. The Foundation Core Capacity Assessment Tool (FCCAT) emerged from this body of work, a process which entailed months of research and discussion with clients and the broader philanthropic field about what specific capacities foundations need to be most effective that span many organizational types and purposes.

 

What types of foundations should take the FCCAT?

The FCCAT was created to be taken by any foundation, regardless of foundation type (private, family, community, public, corporate), asset size, staff size, grantmaking strategy, or issues supported.

 

WHO WITHIN MY FOUNDATION SHOULD TAKE THE FCCAT?

The FCCAT reflects the diverse perspectives of those who take the tool, so a diverse mix of staff (and/or board) from different levels and portfolios is best and will make your results stronger. While some questions pertain specifically to grantmaking, the FCCAT is intended to get at capacities that span the entire organization.  If your foundation’s board members have sufficient working knowledge of operations or management, they may be good candidates for your group of participants. Otherwise, we generally discourage board members from participating as respondents for the FCCAT.

 

How many people should take the fccat?

We require that a minimum of three individuals take the FCCAT to ensure the anonymity of respondents; there is no upper limit on the number of participants who can take the FCCAT.  We recommend that participants – whether staff or board members – have a strong knowledge of the foundation’s management and operations, and are at least minimally familiar with grantmaking processes.  Participants may skip any questions they don’t feel prepared to answer, and/or which may be irrelevant to your foundation’s unique context.

  

CAN THE FCCAT BE TAKEN AT THE PROGRAM OR PORTFOLIO LEVEL RATHER THAN FOR THE FOUNDATION OVERALL?

Yes. We encourage staff at foundations with a large number of employees and a variety of grantmaking programs to consider taking the FCCAT through the lens of a particular program or portfolio. All you need to do is make sure this lens is clearly communicated with all staff taking the FCCAT. As long as all participating staff consistently answer questions from the program or portfolio perspective, and skip questions they don’t feel are relevant or fall outside their purview, there should be no problem with the FCCAT reporting fidelity or results.  Results will, necessarily, simply apply to the portfolio rather than the foundation overall.

 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COMPLETE THE FCCAT?

We estimate it takes each participant approximately 30 minutes to complete the FCCAT.

 

What will TCC Group do with my foundation’s data?

TCC Group never shares individual foundation data beyond the report given directly to the participating foundation and will not share the individual responses with anyone (including the participating foundation). TCC Group does analyze and aggregate data to share with the field and, where applicable, to provide aggregate comparisons.

In terms of a participating foundation, the first thing we do is analyze your data, assessing the combined results of all participants within your foundation who took the tool. Next, using statistically validated algorithms, we aggregate your data to produce a report specific to your foundation’s data. This report is for your foundation exclusively and is not distributed elsewhere by TCC Group.

 

WHAT DOES THE FCCAT REPORT INCLUDE?

FCCAT reports include both narrative and numerical data, shared in easily digestible visuals and charts.  Each FCCAT report begins with an overview of the tool, a description of assessment ratings, and a discussion of how to make sense of results.  The body of the report details your Foundation’s overall core capacity scores (leadership, adaptive, management, technical, and organizational culture) and sub-capacity scores.  Definitions for each core and sub-capacity are also provided.   Variances (or differences of opinion) between participants in given areas are also identified, when relevant.  Finally, the report includes questions to help your reviewers make collective sense of your results, and begin to chart a course of action.

  

IS TCC GROUP AVAILABLE TO HELP INTERPRET OUR RESULTS?

TCC Group staff is also available to guide you in this interpretation process, if desired, in order to enhance organizational learning, contexualize your results within the larger body of foundations that have taken the tool, and facilitate consideration of action.  While we have designed the report to be accessible and user-friendly, we have found that participants often benefit greatly from a discussion on findings facilitated by our expert staff.  Please email FCCAT@tccgrp.com to inquire about setting up a learning-oriented interpretation if this option is of interest to you.

 

WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR ENGAGING MY FOUNDATION IN TAKING THE FCCAT?

Email FCCAT@tccgrp.com and let us know that you would like to register to take the FCCAT. TCC staff will confirm that you fit the qualifications (a minimum of three participants), and address any questions you may have. You will need to identify a point person (lead) within your foundation who will receive all communication from TCC Group, as well as designate staff (and/or board) members to participate in taking the tool, and provide these names (and emails) to TCC.  TCC Group will in turn email each designated participant an individualized link with detailed instructions for taking the FCCAT. Each participant will have one month to complete the tool at a time of their convenience.  Once all participants from your foundation have completed the tool, we will analyze results and produce a customized report. The turnaround for report production is approximately one month.

 

HOW CAN I OBTAIN more information?

Email FCCAT@tccgrp.com and one of our team members will get back to you promptly to answer any questions you may have.  We are eager to help you learn more about this tool and consider its value for your foundation.