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McKinsey/VPP OCAT

McKinsey & Company has updated the Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool: OCAT 2.0 is now available. 

The Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool (OCAT), originally developed by McKinsey & Company for VPP, is an assessment tool to measure operational capacity and identify areas which need improvement. It can be used as a self-assessment tool and as a tool for funders. More than 70 organizations have requested permission to modify or replicate the tool, post it on their websites, or distribute it among their own grantees. It's been cited in more than 20 books and college courses and is accessed online around 1200 times monthly. As part of VPP's dedication to sharing our knowledge, the original McKinsey report "Effective Capacity Building in Nonprofit Organizations," which includes the OCAT, is available completely free of charge. 

OCAT 2.0: McKinsey has incorporated user feedback and perspectives to update the OCAT. After registering and setting a timeline for completion, organizations can access this updated tool.

 

Organizations that have used the OCAT or created an adapted version of their own include: 

  • Social Venture Partners
  • The Roberts Enterprise Development Fund
  • Acumen Fund
  • Marguerite Casey Foundation
  • The Susquehanna Folk Music Society
  • Community Builders, New South Wales, Australia
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • The Forbes Fund
  • Virginia Department of Social Services Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives
  • United Way International
  • John Wiley and Sons Publishing
  • The Hill Group
  • The City of Miami Mayor's Office
  • The California Rural Indian Health Board

Users of the OCAT range from foundations and non-profits, to governments, to for-profits.  Numerous nonprofit consulting firms make use of the OCAT, or a modified version, as well. 

Universities and academic centers that have incorporated the OCAT into curricula include:

  • The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies
  • University of the District of Columbia
  • Harvard Business School
  • University of Minnesota
  • John F. Kennedy School of Government

Blueprint Research and Design authored the case study Building Capacity While Assessing It: Three Foundations’ Experiences Using the McKinsey Capacity Assessment Grid.  Blueprint Research and Design adapted the McKinsey grid to fit the specific needs of each of the three above organizations – Marguerite Casey Foundation, Social Venture Partners, and Community Clinics Initiative. This report details the goals that these organizations had in adapting the OCAT, as well as the challenges, successes, and overall outcomes of using it. 

The most up-to-date OCAT adaptation is available online:

McKinsey & Company has updated the OCAT, incorporating user feedback and perspectives from the field to provide additional content, added supporting materials, and an easier user experience.

Other adaptations are available for use:

The Marguerite Casey Foundation Capacity Assessment Tool.  The Marguerite Casey Foundation reduced the original seven categories into four: Leadership Capacity, Adaptive Capacity, Management Capacity, and Operational Capacity.  The Foundation primarily used its adaptation to understand strengths and weaknesses of its grantee organizations, and to identify regional differences in capacity-building priorities (Guthrie and Preston, Building Capacity While Assessing It). 

Social Venture Partners Organizational Capacity Tool.  Social Venture Partners increased the number of categories to ten, developing more in-depth questions on subjects such as marketing and public relations, and human resources.  

Community Clinics Initiative Organizational Capacity Tool.  Community Clinics Initiative, a community health center and clinic support organization, revamped the OCAT to focus more specifically on the capacity-building issues affecting community health clinics, creating a highly customized and in-depth version of the tool. 

Feeding America Capacity Self-Assessment Tool (CSAT).  Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks, engaged Blueprint Research + Design to modify the OCAT into an online tool that addressed both core organizational competencies, and capacities specific to food banking organizations.  The resulting tool (the CSAT) updates much of the original OCAT content and adopts a different, functional framework for organizing the content.  In addition, the tool contains a new set of elements focused on Program Delivery that assess capacities directly related to food banking.  Feeding America distributed the CSAT to its 202 member organizations.  Participation was voluntary; ultimately, 143 member organizations chose to participate, which resulted in an engagement of 1,054 people, including 230 board members.  A study on the implementation of the OCAT for Feeding America was done by Blueprint Research + Design.
 
Although the online version of the CSAT is currently available only to Feeding America members, a PDF version is available here.

Seeds of Change Initiative Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool. Heifer International, a global nonprofit organization working to end hunger and build sustainable livelihoods, adapted the Marguerite Casey OCAT adaptation for use in their Seeds of Change Initiative. This initiative is based in the US and provides technical assistance, along with funding, for local foods organizations working among food insecure populations. All applicants to this program must complete the Heifer OCAT.

Please let us know if you have used the OCAT and would like to share your experience, or if you have a publicly available adaptation that we have not included in this listing.