Through Going the Last Mile Program, a USAID funded program, Population Services International (PSI) and Population Solutions for Health (PSH) is supporting community-based organizations (CBO’s) to strengthen their organizational capacity so that they may graduate to receive direct funding from PEPFAR and other funders. This is achieved through a structured and participatory organizational capacity assessment facilitated by skilled PSH staff.  

The assessment focuses on eight (8) key organizational development components: Leadership and Governance; Systems and Structures, Financial Management; Human Resources; Program Planning and Management; Monitoring and Evaluation; Networking and Collaboration; and Knowledge Management. 

In May 2020, Hands of Hope (HoH), Sexual Rights Centre (SRC), TransSmart, and Matebeleland Aids Council (MAC) participated in the first-round participatory organizational capacity assessment guided by skilled facilitators from PSH. Follow-up capacity assessments for the 4 CBOs were done in February 2023; with observed impressive improvements on the scores. Besides improved scores, the participatory assessment approach also changed perceptions of the assessed CBOs towards organizational capacity assessment and instilled ownership of the process.  

“The first words that came to my mind when I got communication on the Organizational Capacity Assessment from PSH were “oh my!! another fault-finding mission, however this time it was different,” says Viola George, Executive Director from MAC. 

The process did not only assess competency but also allowed the 4 CBO’s learning and development discussions for their betterment. Based on the discussions, scoring and recommendations, they shaped and set priorities for actions in boosting their governance, employee performance management, stakeholder engagement, strategic plan, and position for funding.  

Reflections on OCA and capacity building

“Having a current strategic plan coupled with updated organizational policies gave us a comparative advantage. In eight months, we were able to address key issues, create sound structures and systems to function more efficiently, and attract more funding partners,” says Viola George, Executive Director from MAC. 

She added, “MAC submitted a proposal for funding, and we are happy to say we managed to secure additional funding in February 2023, due to the updated organizational systems. All thanks to PSH.” 

In the same light, Hands of Hope benefited tremendously in improving its financial capacity, human capital, governance, and strategic soundness.

HoH is now better positioned resulting in other community-based organizations reaching out for support to strengthen their institutional capacity. HoH has plans to work with the two organizations as part of a funding and technical assistance consortium.” says an HoH representative.

Sexual Rights Centre and PSH team after a successful OCA.

Indeed, organizational success hinges on the role of identifying strengths and gaps and then developing and implementing a strategic plan to address identified gaps. It is the pathway to remaining a healthy organization.  MAC and HoH are reaping the fruits of organizational capacity assessment and are looking forward to a new era.