Introducing the Changemaker Capacity Index.


A new diagnostic tool to assess four key indicators of impact capacity

Mighty Ally | Blog | Increase the True Impact of Pro Bono | girls photo

How do you gauge at a glance an organization’s capacity for creating social change? Without deep onsite immersion, a lengthy due diligence process, or a comprehensive consulting engagement, is there a way to – quickly – determine if a changemaker has the foundational puzzle pieces in place to drive impact?

This was a question we posed to ourselves and colleagues in the sector. When the answer came back “no”, we decided to create the Changemaker Capacity Index. And we eagerly launch it today.

Whether an NGO or social enterprise, creating real change within vulnerable communities requires a number of building blocks. People, partners, funding, infrastructure, vision, strategy, rhythms, processes, data, branding, and marcomm, just to name a few. And that’s all not to mention the program, product, or service that aims to serve beneficiaries.

For established changemakers, tools exist to assess some of these building blocks. Our favorite for larger nonprofits is McKinsey’s Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool. It’s robust and the results can be profound. But the OCAT is a multi-part survey that takes two hours to complete and most often requires a facilitator to interpret the results.

For underserved changemakers – the clients we serve – we wanted to create a tool that provided a more accessible, higher-level view of their capacity for impact. Not another M&E framework meant to measure impact. We wanted a tool that would uncover opportunities and plant seeds, but not aim to prescribe solutions. A tool that aligned with four critical and interconnected areas: brand strategy, org health, marketing, and partnerships. These four building blocks alone won’t guarantee social change – there are simply too many variables in the mix. But without these four building blocks in place, desired outcomes and impact are nearly impossible to fully achieve.

In our beta testing with select NGOs and social enterprises, we’ve found a few interesting and initial trends. First off, the average overall score is right at 60 out of 100. In this 20-question assessment using a five-point scale, that means most organizations to date are spot on average. The brand strategy section has averaged 18 out of 30 possible points. Org health has averaged 15 out of 30. The average marketing score so far is 23 out of 30 (the highest average score by section). And partnerships has yielded just 4 points out of 10.

How does your organization measure up? Take 10 minutes to find out now.

What’s exciting about this system is that we’ll be collecting and averaging hundreds (then hopefully thousands) of scores over time. And we expect a true index to emerge. To our knowledge, this will become a unique dataset – in which we can confidentially cross-reference the results by organization type and size – that will allow us to note trends across the sector. And more importantly, develop and share data-driven recommendations with those who participate. 

Do NGOs with stronger brand strategy scores raise more money? Does a higher score in org health equate to greater staff engagement and impact numbers? Do those social enterprises with a better marketing assessment truly sell more products? And for those companies that rank highly in partnerships, do they expand their reach further than peers?

We believe the answer will be yes to all the above. So data geeks (like me), stand by and let’s watch this unfold together.

Humbly speaking, this is our inaugural Changemaker Capacity Index. We'll be actively looking for ways to improve this tool as we analyze feedback and results. So in that vein and in the spirit of social sector collaboration, we welcome any and all ideas for improvement. Just reply to the results email you receive once you hit submit.

We hope you find the tool and your personalized results extremely valuable. The CCI (as we’re lovingly calling it here) is even better when you share it across your team. That way, it serves as a comparison mechanism that reflects internal realities, identifies divergent opinions, and starts a conversation around potential solutions.

In the immortal words of Ice Cube, it’s time to check yo’ self.

Happy assessing.