Organisational self-assessment methodology

Organisational assessments were carried out using the Organisational Viability Toolkit, which was tested in the course of an earlier SECTOR programme implemented in the Western Balkans between 2006 and 2009. The toolkit was modified according to the specific situation in Belarus and Moldova and was used to help selected CSOs in the target country to assess their internal structure and values, determine their legitimacy in society, and establish the degree to which they represent their target groups and members. 

The toolkit contains resources and guidance notes to help organisations to assess their performance and prepare a development plan. The toolkit methodology is based on three steps:


The organisational pre-assessment determines the organisation’s readiness for/commitment to the self-assessment process.

The pre-assessment gauges the readiness of the organisation in terms of motivation, capacity and willingness to carry out a performance assessment and subsequently to design a development plan. The pre-assessment ascertains whether stakeholders are ready to put the necessary effort into the process and to deal with the challenges that might arise. These are essential questions before embarking on the journey, and if stakeholders answer in the negative, they should proceed no further.

Each organisation that goes through the assessment process and creates an organisational development plan must be aware that the commitment to improve the organisation needs to be supported by the board, the director/president, and the staff, members and volunteers. It may be a lengthy process; it represents an additional activity for an already burdened organisation; and it may bring up issues that not everyone is comfortable with. The board and staff should therefore hold an internal meeting/consultation before embarking on the process in order to decide whether the organisation is ready to go through with it.

The pre-assessment meeting/consultation usually takes half a day and is generally more successful if it takes place with the participation of an external facilitator.


The organisational self-assessment measures the performance of the CSO on the basis of certain internal functions (products/processes/practices). It is carried out by benchmarking organisational capacities in four development areas: institutional development; organisational development; systemic development; and programmatic development.

The self-assessment clusters the organisation’s internal functions into seven core components: strategic leadership; organisational processes; human resources; financial management; infrastructure; inter-institutional linkages; and programme management. Three criteria (effectiveness, efficiency and financial viability) are used to determine the organisation’s performance level in terms of its internal functions.

The self-assessment usually takes two to three days. It is intended as a participatory process and should be organised in the form of a group discussion (or retreat). It should include board members, management, staff and volunteers. Consensus among participants is desirable and this can best be achieved with the assistance of an external facilitator.

Self-assessment outcomes are available here.

Development plan

The organisational development plan is intended to be a roadmap for organisational change and addresses the internal functions identified via the self-assessment. Through the organisational planning process the organisation determines and defines how it will meet its development needs. The preparation of the plan is an opportunity to stand back and reflect on what an organisation does and, more specifically, on how well the organisation is set up to do it.

The organisational development plan is not a recipe for instant success. It requires commitment and the building of capacities in order to achieve organisational change over time.

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