Capacity Building Self-Assessment Tool

Self-Assessment Use

The dimensions and sub dimensions outlined in the following matrix provide a high-level overview of key capacity areas for your group or organization to consider. The self-assessment tool may be used in whole or in part, depending on what makes the most sense for your organization or system. Where you begin and the order in which you proceed within the tool will depend on your organization’s most pressing needs. Some groups may start with creating or strengthening engagement and partnerships.  Others may be ready to build knowledge and skills for systems thinking and better address a priority. It is likely that some of the capacity dimensions will be more helpful to you than others. Use caution when choosing your areas of improvement; it is more prudent to do less initially. There is a glossary of some of the terms at the end of the tool for your reference. The resources at the end of each section are to help you to assist you once you have a better understanding through the assessment determine the areas of strength and improvement.


  1. Use this self-assessment tool to provide a better picture of your organization’s strengths and challenges. 
  2. Select the people you want to assess your organization. This self-assessment tool is meant to be completed as a collaborative process within your group or organization. When done thoughtfully, the assessment process can yield important insights about your organizational fitness, help ensure commitment to capacity building from your staff or board, and serve as a useful conversation starter for how you will further develop your means for planning and achieving your goals.
  3. Complete the self-assessment tool individually or as a group. It may be helpful to see individual responses before you work together as a group to complete the self-assessment. Review the dimensions of the tool first (culture and climate, engagement and partnerships, financial resources, infrastructure, and knowledge and skills) so that you can determine which areas are most integral to achieving your goals. You may select all of the dimensions or a subset of the dimensions.  
  4. Once you have determined the dimensions you want to focus on, please review the benchmarks and come to a consensus about your organization’s level of capacity for each subdimension.  
  5. Use the check boxes to rank your current level of capacity for each subdimension. Keep in mind you are trying to rank on a continuum of basic, moderate, or high level of capacity. 
  6. Summarize and analyze your findings.
  7. Share the findings and determine implications for action. Please see the Resource section for each dimension, as well as the Now What section of this chapter to help you develop a plan of action.


  • Distributed leadership: This type of leadership focuses on how people complete tasks that involve different people distributed across an organization. This approach is used to determine how leadership works in complex organizations. (Spillane & Diamond, 2007)
  • Promoting equity: The process of eliminating disparities that adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to participating in quality early learning experiences. 
  • Social impact: The effect of an activity or investment on the social fabric of the community and well-being of individuals and families. 
  • Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory: Developed by American psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner, this theory explains how the environment interacts with children to influence how they develop. Bronfenbrenner stresses the importance of studying a child in the context of multiple environments, also known as ecological systems. A child is usually enmeshed in different ecosystems, from the home ecological system moving outward to the school system and then the most expansive system—society and culture. Each of these systems interact with and influence each other to impact all aspects of a child’s life. (Psychology Notes HQ, 2013)
  • PDCA cycle: The plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle is a four-step approach that calls for constant interaction and repetition among the steps to support continuous improvement. This dynamic and deliberate nonlinear process can instill sustainable change. 
    • Plan what to do.
    • Do it.
    • Check the results.
    • Act to make adjustments and improve. (W. Edwards Deming Institute, n.d.)