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Institutional Self-Assessment

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Internationally, The Nature Conservancy assists countries, through local partnerships, to build the capability and commitment to conserve biological diversity and the natural systems necessary to sustain life. Since 1988, the Conservancy has worked to strengthen the institutional capacity of our in-country partner organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean to achieve our shared conservation goals.

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Institutional Development was a “cross-cutting theme” in Parks in Peril (PIP), forming an important basis for most of our work. Building strong conservation organizations involves more that improving technical capacity for conservation management—things like patrolling protected areas, adaptive management based on severity of threats and biodiversity health, or working with local communities.  To build and enduring conservation presence, PIP also needed to focus on building strong, durable conservation organizations to ensure that protected areas will have long-term conservation advocates and authorities.  To that end, Parks in Peril worked with local non-governmental organizations to build strong boards of directors, management systems, mission clarity, and financial strength.  Through its work with partner organizations, PIP has developed several useful tools to support this process, including:

  • Institutional Self Assessment: A Tool for Strengthening Non-Profit Organizations— Autoevaluación Institucional: Una Herramienta para el Fortalecimiento de Organizaciones Sin Fines de Lucro
  • Rumbo al Exito: Una Guía para juntas directivas de organizaciones sin fines de lucro. (A Guide for Non-Profit Boards of Directors)
  • Integrated Strategic and Financial Planning— Planificación Estratégica y Financiera Integrada
  • Four Pillars of Financial Sustainability— Cuatro pilares de la estabilidad financiera
  • Core Costs and NGO Sustainability: Towards a Donor-NGO Consensus on the Importance of Proper Measurement, Control and Recovery of Indirect Costs— Costos Indirectos y la Sostenibilidad en las ONGs

Organizational assessment processes are nothing new in the field of nonprofit management, also known as institutional development, a process often conducted by an external expert or consultant. What is relatively new is the idea of organizational self-assessment. The Nature Conservancy has developed the Institutional Self-Assessment Tool to assist organizations in determining their current level of development based on eight core institutional areas. Implicit in this notion is that, with a little guidance and the right tools, an NGO is capable of consciously self-reflecting and identifying its own strengths and weaknesses as an organization.