PowerCheck Instructions

The following information will be helpful as you complete PowerCheck: Community Organizing Capacity Assessment Tool.

What rating scale does PowerCheck use?

PowerCheck uses a four-point scale:

4 = Very Strong/Always

3 = Moderately Strong/Usually

2 = Somewhat Strong/Sometimes

1 = Not Strong/Rarely/Never

Different individuals might define each rating differently. For example, one person might think the organization is somewhat strong in one area, while someone else thinks it is very strong. Discussing these different perceptions can help everyone gain a shared understanding of the group’s capacity. When comparing one organization to another, it’s also important to keep in mind the subjective nature of the rating scale. One organization might consistently rate itself high while a similar organization consistently rates itself low. Honest ratings of organizational capacities will contribute to gaining the most benefit from PowerCheck.

What if Section IV, Community Consensus Building is not relevant for a group?

Section IV, Community Consensus Building, has preselected 1 = Not Strong/Rarely/Never for all of the measures in recognition that this is a method which many organizing groups do not utilize.  Those who do can simply mark their answers as appropriate and the preselected score will be erased.

How are the “Basic” and “Advanced” measures questions used?

For each of the 24 indicators of PowerCheck, organizations will complete the “Basic” assessments and have the option of completing one to three additional “Advanced” measures. Organizations more experienced with advocacy should complete the “Advanced” measures as well as the “Basic” ones. “Advanced” measures scores are provided but not factored into the overall scores for the five sections and 24 indicators.

When should the few “Rely on Partners” questions be answered?

Rely on Partners is an optional question in part of Section III, Organizing for Change, and all of Section IV, Community Consensus Building.

The “Rely on Partners” option provides an opportunity for groups to demonstrate certain areas where their work is being enhanced by others and should be filled in if the organization gets capacity in a particular indicator from other individuals or groups.  For example, group A is organizing on a housing issue in its community.   Its coalition partner, group B, often does media work for the groups in the housing coalition.  Group A might rate its own Media Relations capacity low, and indicate in the optional Rely on Partners question that it is getting some of the capacity through others.

Identify areas for strengthening

Please identify up to three indicators of capacity you want to strengthen based on the results and your community organizing goals and objectives.  You may also want to choose a time when you will return to determine your progress in the areas you have chosen to strengthen. The survey will give you an option to comment on the indicators and timing that you choose.  Below are questions to assist you in prioritizing areas for improvement.

  • Ask yourself: What is needed for what our organization wants to accomplish? What is our niche? What’s going to get us more impact in the short term and long term?
  • Consider where you already have capacity on which to build. There might be some areas that are important, but it would take a bigger investment than you can make to build your capacity in that area.
  • Consider where you might currently rely on partners.  Do your partners adequately fill that need?  Are they better positioned to provide this capacity? If not, should you look for additional partners or should you build your own capacity in this area?
  • Consider that indicators and measures under the last Section (Organizational Operations/ Infrastructure) may not seem vital to your organizing work in the short run, but can make the difference in the organization’s continuing engagement with its community. Consider prioritizing within Sections. For example, if the organization is strong in Media Relations, but less strong with Coalition Building / Partnering or Influencing Decision-Makers, which area in Organizing for Change should you focus on building first?
  • Consider prioritizing by measures within indicators.  For example, if the organization is weak in the Media Relations indicator, which measures under Media Relations should you focus on building first?
Aggregate results

To aggregate results for two or more groups, please contact us at advocacy@afj.org or 866-NP-LOBBY before filling out the tool.

Analyze results

After completing PowerCheck, you will receive the following information:

  1. The scores for each of the 24 Indicators, by Section
  2. Your score for each of the five Sections
  3. Scores for the optional Advanced and “Rely on Partners” Measures are provided but are not factored into the overall scores for indicators and sections.

Scores are a reflection of community organizing capacity, not of the quality of the organizing work.  The scores for use of partners should be factored into analyzing the results.

An overall low organizational score indicates that there are a lot of things to put in place in order to broaden, deepen, and sustain the community organizing work, and/or that there a lot of capacities gained from other groups.  Where organizations decide to primarily rely on partners for certain areas, the organizational score is expected to be lower in those areas.

High score for the organization means that it has its own skills and resources needed for organizing success in the areas described.

Below you will find questions to help you interpret your results and think through how the results can help you prioritize efforts to build your organizing capacity.

Questions for analyzing results

For the Indicators in which you are the strongest – i.e., you have the highest scores – think about the following:

  • Why are you strong in this area? Because you have invested in it? Because current staff and/or volunteers have strong capacity?  Because constituents strongly support the work?  What has it taken to build your capacity in these areas and what has been the benefit?
  • Are there other ways that you might take advantage of this strength?
  • Is this area critical to your future community organizing work? If so, what do you need to do to sustain your capacity in this area?

For the indicators in which you are the weakest – i.e., you have the lowest scores –think about the following:

  • Why are you weak in this area?
    • Because you have not considered it before?
    • Because there’s not sufficient community support?
    • Because it’s less critical to the success of your organizing work?
    • Because you have not had the resources to invest in building this capacity?
    • Because others in your community (whether geographic or issue-area) are doing this work?
  • Will strengthening your capacity in this area help you accomplish your current organizing goals and objectives?  If so, how?
  • Is this area critical to your future work?
  • Should you now make a strategic choice to invest in this area? If so, which measures should you focus on improving?
  • Should you do more work with partners in this area
  • What would it take to build your capacity in this area?

When viewing the results on partners, consider the following:

  • What is the strength of partner(s) in the areas in which you rely upon them ?
  • Do the organization’s priorities and those of its partner(s) work well together?
  • Should you consider building the organization’s own capacity in the areas for which it currently relies on partners?
  • Are there other groups with whom the organization should be partnering?
Revisit all or part of PowerCheck
  • Return to PowerCheck to revisit the areas that you chose to strengthen in the time you designated or will designate for the return—for example, three months, six months, one year, or 18 months later—and complete PowerCheck in those areas.  Determine whether or not you have met your goals.
  • It is recommended that you complete the entire PowerCheck periodically.