Philanthropy University Online

Organizational Capacity: Assessment to Action

Doug Scott, President of A Better Chicago, Former Senior Expert at McKinsey & Company
A free course from Philanthropy University
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The Course

Backing an organization's programmatic work through thoughtful assessment of its capacity is a critical step towards making nonprofits stronger and more effective.

In this course, students will analyze their organization's current capacity and prioritize ways to further impact. Through a mix of lectures and interviews with real nonprofit leaders, students will design their own capacity building plans--using actual data from survey results--to increase the effectiveness of their organizations. The Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool (OCAT), developed by McKinsey & Company and Venture Philanthropy Partners, will be used.

What You'll Do:

  • Identify common obstacles to building capacity in organizations and brainstorm ideas for overcoming those challenges.
  • Understand how stakeholder buy-in for internal assessments can build organizational capacity and a stronger foundation overall.
  • Learn how other nonprofit leaders use assessment data to increase the impact, effectiveness, and reach of their organizations.

Weekly Topics:

Week 0: On-boarding and Team Formation
Week 1: Why Capacity Building Matters
Week 2: Preparing & Completing the OCAT, Part 1
Weeks 3 & 4: Preparing & Completing the OCAT, Part 2
Week 5: Acting on Your Data
Week 6: Execution & Learning from Failures


Approximately 2-3 hours per week watching videos, readings articles, participating in class discussion, and completing individual and/or team assignments. You will need a computer that allows you to watch the video lectures and provides the ability to upload all your assignments.

Statement of Accomplishment:

*To receive a Statement of Accomplishment, you will need to complete 3 out of the 4 weekly assignments, including the administration of the OCAT with your organization, or completion of a similar project. Administering the OCAT typically involves getting 4-15 key leaders to spend 60-90 minutes completing the OCAT, and 2-3 hours debriefing the results.

More Information:

Philanthropy University is a non-degree, diploma or credit granting initiative powered by Berkeley-Haas. Philanthropy U is the concept developer and sponsor of the initiative. Learners are not entitled to earn college or other academic credit.