Roselle S. Rasay, Executive Director, CODE-NGO, Philippines

Back in 2012 to 2014, the Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) was part of a consortium of Philippine CSO networks and organizations which implemented the “Strengthening the Capacity of Philippine CSOs Project.” The consortium is led by Ayala Foundation and supported by the USAID mission in the country. The consortium supported 138 CSOs in the Philippines through a 3-year organizational development journey. 

Underlying the organizational development process or journey that the participating CSOs went through is the Capacity Building Framework as illustrated above. The framework describes the desired outcomes of the initiative and the processes that the CSOs went through, i.e. self-assessment using the Capacity Assessment Tool (CAT), developing a capacity development plan, accessing training and mentoring interventions to address capacity gaps and monitoring and evaluating their progress throughout a 3-year period. The framework focuses on 5 capacity building areas that are critical for CSOs to operate with a robust system of transparency, accountability and effectiveness, such as 1) Governance, Leadership and Strategic Management, 2) Resource Mobilization and Development, 3) Program Development, Management and Evaluation, 4) Financial Management and 5) Human Resources and Administrative Management. The project theorized that by strengthening the capacities of CSOs in these areas, they become eligible and more capable of accessing donor funding, become more accountable and programmatic in their program and financial management and become more impactful and sustainable in delivering their organizational mission. The framework is shaped like a house to illustrate the steps a CSO needs to undertake to “put its organization or house in order.”

An important mechanism of this process is the Capacity Assessment Tool (CAT). It is a 63-point self-assessment tool to help a CSO measure its capacities in the 5 capacity building areas. It provides a rating scale of 1 or start-up to 6 or mature per indicator against specific standards and metrics. The tool is accessible at the CODE-NGO website through this link.

The Capacity Assessment Tool (CAT) provides a rating of 1 to 6 for the CSO in each capacity building area, as well as over-all. The following ratings correspond to the stages of organizational development of a CSO.


Does the CAT work?

The project resulted to more than 80% of participating CSOs passing a mock Non US Organization Pre-Award Survey (NUPAS) process of the USAID.  While the training and mentoring activities contributed largely to the performance of the CSOs, the self-assessment and M&E process using the CAT was critical in measuring their progress throughout the project term.  It helped them see their improvement (or decline) in their ratings in specified areas and led them to act to improve on these.

Some may think that only large or well-resourced organizations can undergo this rigorous organizational assessment and capacity development processes. However, we also applied the same tools in another project, which involved our partner local, community-based organizations in the provinces. At the beginning of the project, 3 (of 9) of our partner local CSO platforms started as informal, unregistered farmers’ and indigenous people’s associations. Most of their scores in the CAT at the beginning were 1’s and 2’s. After 3 years in the project, they have increased their scores to mostly 3’s – which meant that they have started formalizing their structures and establishing their organizational policies. They have also formally registered their associations. These helped them establish legitimacy and gave them greater confidence to assert their capacities to engage their respective local government units and to advocate for policies concerning their sector.