Pact’s Capacity Solutions Platform: Using technology for sustainable, community-led development
The international development community has long recognized capacity development as a key to sustainable progress, yet the data that is collected to measure and evaluate this process has often been inconsistent and only available to top decision-makers in international organizations.
For decades, Pact has worked with local communities and organizations to empower them to take ownership of their own development. Today, we’re leveraging technology to provide civil society organizations and local systems with platforms to increase transparency and accountability, improve data analysis and build local solutions based on the capacities of communities and their networks.
One such technology is the Capacity Solutions Platform, or CSP. The CSP was created to collect, analyze and report on real-time, high-quality capacity development data in a user-friendly way, and to help local organizations learn from their data and own their ongoing capacity development processes. For the past nine years, we have used the platform to collect output and outcome-level capacity development data for more than 2,500 local partners including CSOs, government institutions and communities. The platform also collects and analyzes a variety of other capacity development data, from input data, such as mentoring and coaching, to network systems analysis.
Data collected through the CSP is comparable across projects, years and geographies, increasing returns on capacity development investments at the local and international level. Project-level data is available to donors, increasing transparency and tightening the adapting and learning cycle during project implementation.
As an organization strives to move beyond anecdotal stories and output level indicators toward a clearly articulated theory of change that supports outcome-level measurement of capacity development interventions, the CSP helps to establish its pathway: building stronger local organizations and networks with better internal policies, skills, procedures and practices; performing externally at a higher level; and, as a result, making greater impact in their target communities. Data should be used at every step.
The CSP empowers local organizations to learn from their data and own their capacity development processes.
The USAID EpiC project is one of many that has leveraged the CSP to achieve faster, better results. In 2021, under EpiC, Pact introduced the CSP to our local partners in Indonesia. The tool helped to shorten the process of measuring organizational performance from two to three weeks to two days, as before local partners had to collect data using Google Drive and work with offline forms. The CSP also empowered local partners to manage their own Organizational Performance Index evidence-based data by themselves, including their board members, who were able to supervise the data collection and analysis process. Most important, the CSP provided local EpiC partners with opportunities to review their performance improvements and make evidence-based decisions on their capacity development strategies.
From Pact’s standpoint, the CSP helps to track capacity development inputs, outputs and outcomes and make real-time, data-informed decisions. Local organizations now have their data at their fingertips, and international organizations have a systems view of organizational and network effectiveness.
The CSP also allows Pact to personalize our work with each local partner with its own unique capacities, needs and pathway toward sustainability. Data available on the platform helps to create a story of the capacity development process for each local partner – its history, its trajectory, its assets and how it can be supported in its journey forward. As a result, the CSP has proven to be an effective platform that enables the measurement of outcome-level organizational and network capacity changes, better monitoring of capacity strengthening activities, and the use of data to inform Pact’s and local partners’ sustainability strategies.
Recently, other international NGOs have begun purchasing yearly subscriptions to the CSP to make better informed decisions about the capacity strengthening services they offer. Pact is thrilled to see this tool that has been so important in our own work gain new users and reach.